The State Security Service of Georgia unveiled on January 4 further details on the ongoing investigation into Ahmed Chatayev’s case, saying the investigation had evidence proving the connection between five citizens of Georgia and the group of foreign terror suspects, who allegedly plotted attacks on diplomatic missions in Georgia and Turkey.
Nino Giorgobiani, spokesperson of the State Security Service, said at a news briefing yesterday that the investigation had “established” that Ruslan Aldamov, together with three other detained residents of Georgia’s north-eastern Pankisi gorge – Badur Chopanashvili, Ramaz Margoshvili and Temirlan Machalikashvili – “organized the transportation of Ahmed Chatayev and his group members to Georgia, and helped them with accommodation, food, cell phones and other household services.”
Giorgobiani added that the investigation had also “established” that the fifth detainee, Zurab Gornakashvili, traveled to the north-eastern Turkish city of Hopa, and drove Chatayev’s group members to the Kirnati-Maradidi section of the Turkish-Georgian border. “Gornakashvili assisted Ahmed Chatayev and his group members in Tbilisi as well,” Giorgobiani noted.
Also on January 4, the State Security Service released a video footage featuring Temirlan Machalikashvili, who was wounded in the head during his detention on December 26, and three other men in what it appears to be a cell phone shop in Georgia. The Security Service identified two of the men as Shoaip Borziev and Aslambek Soltakhmadov (the face of the third was intentionally blurred). Giorgobiani said the video was retrieved in the course of the investigation, and that it was filmed in Tbilisi.
The spokesperson also noted that the investigation had seized from Chatayev’s flat in Tbilisi a bank agreement belonging to Temirlan Machalikashvili, “which contained three foreign bank account details together with local bank details.” “At the moment, based on the court ruling, Temirlan Machalikashvili’s bank accounts are being checked,” she added.
The Georgian security forces conducted a large-scale anti-terrorist operation in Isani District of Tbilisi on November 21-22, to detain several armed suspects, who allegedly plotted terrorist attacks against diplomatic missions in Georgia and Turkey. One gunman was captured and three were killed as a result of the fighting, including a senior ISIS member Ahmed Chatayev, who was listed as a terrorist by the United States and the United Nations.
On December 26, the security forces detained five citizens of Georgia in a double operation in Tbilisi and Pankisi gorge of Akhmeta District on charges of assisting the group of militants. One of the detained – 18-year-old Temirlan Machalikashvili – was shot in the head and hospitalized during the operation, following his failed attempt to activate a hand grenade, according to the December 26 statement of the State Security Service. Machalikashvili’s relatives, however, claim he was asleep when the officers entered his room and opened fire.