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Four Georgians sent to pre-trial detention for their alleged links with Islamic State

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, December 3
Four Georgian citizens from the country’s western Ozurgeti region have been sent to pre-trial detention for their alleged connections with the Islamic State (IS).

A special operation to apprehend the individuals was carried out on November 29 by Georgia’s law-enforcement agencies.

As a result of the search activities at the four persons’ houses, officers seized hand grenades, pistols, bullets and cylindrical shaped explosive devices as well as cell phones, sim-cards, memory cards, computer devices, internet modems, notebooks, various literature, information storage electronic devices, CD and DVD disks and ISIS flags, deputy head of Georgia’s Security Service Levan Izoria said.

The detained men have so far only been identified as Jambul A, Mirian B, Gia B, and Lasha G.

The law-enforcers stated that Tbilisi City Court issued a search warrant for 11 homes.

The family members of the detained individuals have dismissed their relatives’ possible links with IS. Some of them even stated that the law-enforcers might have “planted” flags and weapons in their homes.

The lawyers of the detained men intend to appeal the pre-trial detention as the people dismiss the charges about their alleged cooperation with terrorist groups.

Several days ago, Georgia’s relevant bodies also detained a man from Georgia’s Muslim-populated Pankisi Gorge, Davit Borchashvili, for his alleged cooperation with IS.

His relative Aiup Borchashvili is also detained for allegedly recruiting the Gorge youth for IS. Both deny the charges.

After the arrests, opposition members are actively considering the discussion of security issues.

The Free Democrats spoke about the necessity of holding a meeting with the participation of majority and minority MPs to address the security issues.

They say due to the urgency and importance of the issue, it is necessary to have a discussion with the participation of the MPs and considering of the details, especially since the materials have been classified as secret

Members of the United National Movement (UNM) opposition party continue to focus on the significance of a meeting of the Security Council and insist on holding it. They also believe that these issues should be discussed in the format of the Parliament’s Defence Committee.

The majority hopes that the security service has enough relevant evidence and will justify the launching of the case.

"I am sure that the State Security Service has all the arguments and evidence and there will be no questions, because it concerns people who are charged with attempted terrorism," majority MP Ani Mirotadze said.

The United States (U.S.) Ambassador to Georgia, Ian Kelly, has stated that Georgia should be in close cooperation with its regional and foreign partners to adequately respond to terrorist threats.

“These are very difficult times and Georgia lives in a very difficult region. It must be understood that this is a very international threat we face and it reinforces the need for cooperation between the U.S and Georgia, and also the cooperation of Georgia with its neighbours,” Kelly said.

According to Ambassador Kelly, Georgia-U.S. cooperation in the border and customs control is very important. “We are very pleased with Georgia's efforts in this regard,” he added.

Based on recent official figures, up to 50 Muslim Georgians are fighting for IS.

After the recent terrorist attacks in France last month, Georgia strengthened control over its borders and checkpoints.

According to the Interior Ministry and the State Security Service, more than 400 individuals have been prevented from entering Georgia last month alone, while more than 30 have been detained for illegally crossing the borders, though only one Georgian citizen is among them.