Five Georgian citizens were arrested over membership of terrorist group Islamic State in an operation conducted in Pankisi gorge, Kakheti region, the State Security Service of Georgia (SSG) reported on August 24.
According to the SSG statement, the suspects „became members of the terrorist organization Islamic State” and planned to travel to a “terrorist camp” in Syria. They had taken the oath of allegiance (bay’ah) to the current leader of the Islamic State and spread video footage featuring the oath among persons with “links to terrorists,” the report said.
The Security Service noted that the group members “openly expressed their support for the terrorist organization and systematically demonstrated terrorist symbols while moving in the streets.”
The report also said the investigation identified a leader of the group, who “openly stated” he was a representative of the Islamic State and “emir of Georgia,” and who helped the suspects join the ranks of the terrorist group.
„They periodically held secret meetings, discussing ongoing developments on the territories of Syria and Iraq and future plans with respect to Georgia,” the SSG noted.
The counterterrorism center of the Security Service is running an investigation under Article 327 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, involving the membership of a terrorist organization and foreseeing imprisonment for a term of 10 to 12 years.
- State Security Service Reports on Internal, External Threats of 2020
- Georgia in U.S. State Department Report on Terrorism