Overall, the Georgian government is generally capable of detecting, deterring, and responding to terrorist incidents, – reads the annual Report on Terrorism 2017 by US department of state.
According to the authors of the document, the State Security Service of Georgia (SSSG) has the lead in handling terrorism-related incidents.
“The State Security Service of Georgia (SSSG) has the lead in handling terrorism-related incidents and is generally well equipped and well trained. In 2017, Georgia’s law enforcement bodies signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Improving the Efficiency of Interagency Cooperation in the Law Enforcement Sphere, which provides for the creation of an Operational Headquarters on Management of Extreme Situations, in the event of a terrorist act”, – the report reads.
The document underlines that Georgia improved infrastructure in five land border sectors (four along the Azerbaijani border and one along the Turkish), and added four along the Turkish border. Georgia also established the Risk and Threat Assessment Unit, which operates in line with the European Common Integrated Risk Analysis Model, and signed the Tactical Memorandum with the NATO Maritime Command, promoting cooperation and information sharing between NATO and Georgia’s Joint Maritime Operations Center.
“This makes Georgia a non-operational partner of the NATO-led Operation Sea Guardian, one of NATO’s activities to counter terrorism. The government passed additional safety measures in the aviation sector as the State Program on Safeguarding Civil Aviation Security Against Acts of Unlawful Interference legislation was adopted, in conformity with the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, and standards and recommended practices established by International Civil Aviation Organization. Finally, the government approved and implemented the Joint Action Plan on the Management of Crisis – Extreme Situations in the Field of Civil Aviation”, – the report reads.
The report includes November 21-22 developments, when SSSG’s counterterrorism unit led an operation in a residential building in Tbilisi, intending to detain four suspected terrorists who opened fire on the Special Forces
“On November 21-22, the SSSG’s counterterrorism unit led an operation in a residential building in Tbilisi, intending to detain four suspected terrorists who opened fire on the Special Forces. One member of the terrorist group was detained, two were killed, and a fourth suspect detonated an explosive, killing himself. The Georgian government later identified one of the dead as international terrorist Akhmet Chataev. One Georgian officer was killed and four others were wounded”, – the document reads.
The authors of the report also wrote about the raids conducted in Pankisi gorge “On December 26, following judicial authorization, the SSSG counterterrorism department launched an early‑morning counterterrorism raid in Pankisi Gorge. Authorities detained four individuals based on their alleged connection to Chataev. One man was critically wounded in the raid and later died. As of late December 2017, investigations into both raids were ongoing”.
According to document, in July, Georgia launched an investigation and subsequent criminal proceedings against a Georgian citizen who was allegedly fighting with ISIS.
As report notes based on reports provided by Georgia’s Financial Monitoring Service, the SSSG launched an investigation into a potential terrorism financing case involving a foreign citizen attempting to open an account in a local private bank who was suspected of having links with an entity operating in Syria. The investigation was ongoing at the end of 2017. Three terrorism-financing cases from 2016 remained ongoing in 2017.