The U.S. State Department released its annual Country Reports on Terrorism 2016, where it assesses for the U.S. Congress the status of terrorist threats in various nations around the world.
The document refers to Georgia as “a longstanding member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS” and “a solid U.S. global security partner,” which is “actively engaged on counterterrorism issues at the international, regional, and bilateral levels.”
The report stresses that “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.”
It is noted in the document that, according to the press reports, there were about 50 to 100 terrorist fighters from Georgia in Syria and Iraq as of the end of 2016. Besides, “given Georgia’s geographic location, Islamist extremists have transited through the country between the Russian Federation’s North Caucasus, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.”
The report says Georgia has improved its border security, in part due to its goal of attaining visa-free travel to the European Union, but lists the country’s “lack of control over the Russian-occupied territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia” among the factors that limit its ability to secure the borders. The document also notes that “with significant U.S. support, the Georgian Coast Guard is better equipped to patrol the country’s maritime borders, with the exception of Russian-occupied Abkhazia’s coastline.”
According to the report, “Georgia continued to enhance its counterterrorism legislation in 2016,” while the country’s State Security Service “is generally well-equipped and well trained.” The report concludes that “overall, the government is largely capable of detecting, deterring, and responding to terrorism incidents.”
At the same time, the report says that beyond law enforcement measures, Georgia is also implementing programs aimed at preventing radicalization of vulnerable populations, particularly in the Pankisi Gorge.
The text has been updated on July 21, in accordance with the final version of the Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 on the U.S. State Department’s website.