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US report on terrorism mentions Georgia

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, July 21
The United States (US) has published its report on terrorism, which is released by the Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism, and says that Georgia is a longstanding member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and it continued its strong engagement with the US across a range of counterterrorism-related issues and remains a solid US global security partner.

The report says that in August 2016, Tbilisi City Court convicted ISIS fighter Davit Borchashvili to 12 years in prison for being a member of a terrorist organization and participating in terrorist activities.

It also reads that Georgian authorities continued to work toward greater information sharing with the US and regional counterparts on security issues and that Georgia made progress implementing a domestic program to counter violent extremism.

“Last year, approximately 50 to 100 Georgian nationals were designated foreign terrorist fighters in Syria and Iraq. Given Georgia’s geographic location, Islamist extremists have transited through the country between the Russian Federation’s North Caucasus, as well as Iraq, Syria, and Turkey,” the article reads.

As for legislation, law enforcement, and border security, the document says that Georgia continued to enhance its counterterrorism legislation in 2016 and now has a substantial legal framework for prosecuting terrorism-related offenses.

“The State Security Service of Georgia (SSSG) has the lead in handling terrorism-related incidents, and is generally well-equipped and well trained. Overall, the government is largely capable of detecting, deterring, and responding to terrorism incidents,” the report reads.

It also says that Georgia has improved its overall border security, in part due to its goal of attaining visa-free travel to the European Union.

“Nonetheless, Georgia’s lack of control over the Russian-occupied territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, its lack of diplomatic relations with Russia, and the country’s harsh terrain limited its ability to secure its borders,” the document reads.

The US side also mentioned that Georgia is a member of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Georgia’s financial intelligence unit, the Financial Monitoring Service of Georgia (FMS), is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units.

“The Georgian government is currently in the process of implementing an action plan for countering money laundering and terrorist financing to further improve regulations and build capacity,” the report says.

As for countering Violent Extremism, according to the document, in 2016, Georgia’s continued efforts to prevent radicalization to violence in vulnerable populations remained in the nascent stage.

The report also says that Georgia is actively engaged on counterterrorism issues at the international, regional, and bilateral levels and it cooperates closely with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and participates in the Defeat-ISIS Coalition and its Foreign Terrorist Fighters Working Group; the Council of Europe Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism and its amending protocol; the Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation; and the GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova) Organization for Democracy and Economic Development. In 2016, Georgia also participated in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Counter-Terrorism conference in Berlin.

“Georgia remains the largest troop contributor per capita, the largest non-NATO contributor, and the fourth-largest troop overall contributor, after only the United States, Germany, and Italy, to the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission (RSM) in Afghanistan, with more than 870 troops deployed,” the report reads.