Head of the Georgian State Security Service Vakhtang Gomelauri met on December 4 with the Parliament’s Group of Confidence – a team of lawmakers in charge of providing parliamentary oversight on secret defense and security expenditures and programs – to discuss the investigation into the November 21-22 anti-terrorist operation in Tbilisi.
Speaking with journalists after the meeting, Gomelauri said the investigation had established how the suspects acquired the weapons they had in the apartment were the operation took place. According to Gomelauri, “a cache has been found in the woods,” adding that presently the investigation was expecting a confirmation that the weapons used by the suspects indeed came from the cache.
Gomelauri declined to answer the question from which country the suspects had entered Georgia, but said that according to the investigation’s version, the suspects entered through “the green border,” meaning that they did so without passing a border checkpoint.
The Head of the State Security Service also noted without elaborating details that there were two versions as to what suspects had intended to do in Georgia. He also said that the FBI agents assisted Georgia with the investigation, adding that they played “an important role” in discovering the weapons cache. He also told journalists, the FBI helped with identifying the three killed suspects including Akhmed Chatayev.
Three suspects, including Chatayev, were killed and one was captured as a result of the security forces operation around and within an apartment block in a Tbilisi district of Isani. The operation claimed the life of one security forces serviceman, with another four wounded.
Ahmed Chatayev was listed as terrorist by the U.S. Treasury in 2015 for planning attacks against unspecified U.S. and Turkish facilities. In 2015, he was also added to the UN Security Council’s Al-Qaida Sanctions List. Chatayev is wanted by the Russian authorities as well.
Chatayev was wounded and arrested by the Georgian police following the Lopota gorge clash in late August 2012, but was soon released from jail on bail. Georgian prosecutors dropped the case against him in January 2013, citing absence of evidence. Soon after his release, Chatayev left Georgia, saying he intended to go to Austria to rehabilitate from his wound. By 2015, he had moved to the ISIS-controlled areas in Syria and Iraq, becoming one of the jihadist organization’s functionaries.