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Georgia’s Security Services Confirm Death of ISIS Leader

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, December 4
(TBILISI)-- Georgia’s State Security Services confirmed that a suspect killed during a 22-hour gun battle with Islamic terrorists is noted Chechen-born ISIS commander Akhmed Chatayev.

In a briefing on Friday, the security services – known as the SSG or SSS – Chatayev blew himself up with a suicide belt after two of his companions were killed in a siege of their apartment building.

US intelligence services assisted the SSG to obtain a positive ID of Chatayev’s remains.

The other two suspects killed in the raid remain unidentified, according to the SSG.

Born in Vedeno - the same town as notorious Chechen militant Shamil Basayev - Chatayev was a battle hardened veteran of the 1999-2001 Second Chechen War, where he lost and arm fighting Russian troops. He later fled to Austria and is believed to have helped recruit and finance volunteers to join Doku Umarov, Basayev’s successor, and help carve out an Islamic state in the North Caucasus.

Chatayev was later arrested on several occasions, including in Sweden and Ukraine, for weapons possession and suspected links to terrorist groups.

Following his arrest in Ukraine, he was deported to Georgia where he took up refuge in the same home village, Tarkhan Batirashvili – the Chechen native of Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge who would later gain international attention as ISIS’ main field commander using his nom de guerre, Abu Omar al-Shishani.

While in Pankisi, Chatayev was picked up by Georgia’s security services during a 2012 anti-terror operation near Georgia’s border with the North Caucasian region Dagestan. Acting first as a go-between for the Georgian government and the Chechen militants holed up in a mountain compound, Chatayev later switched sides and joined the armed terror group.

He lost his leg in the ensuing raid, but was later released after prosecutors determined there was a lack of evidence to try him for terrorist activities.

By 2015, several local media outlets identified Chatayev as having joined ISIS in Syria.

Chatayev was listed as a terrorist by the United States in 2015 for planning attacks against US and Turkish facilities.

In the summer of 2016 Turkish law enforcers named Chataev as a mastermind of a terrorist act in the Ataturk Airport claiming 48 lives and leaving more than 200 injured.

Georgian opposition parties are summoning the police and security officials in parliament to answer their questions.

They are particularly interested how the man managed to come to Georgia and store weapons in one of the flats in Tbilisi.

The President of the Caucasus People Integration Fund, Umar Idigov, who knew Chatayev, said the former Chechen rebel fighter had a wife and family in Pankisi.

Idigov would not rule out the possibility that Chatayev was working with or maintained contacts inside Georgia’s security services.

“Chatayev wanted to surrender. However, I am skeptical about the circumstances surrounding his death. If he had been taken alive, he could have testified as to how he was able to enter and stay in Georgia, despite his terror links,” said Idigov.

The SSG claims they negotiated with the terrorists for several hours before the latter the people opened fire and killed one Georgian serviceman and wounded four others.