Terrorism: July 21, 2002


The Georgian Ministry of National Security is continuing to look for people suspected of committing terrorist attacks in Russia, particularly the apartment bombings in Moscow and Volgodonsk. The special operation against Dekkushev confirmed that there is no need to conduct military operations in the troubled Pankisi gorge, since the Georgians claim to be able to handle the problem themselves.

Georgian Ministry for Refugees and Settlement department chief Irakly Pirtskhalava told the press on 17 July that an escalation of tensions in the Pankisi gorge might make the Georgian authorities raise the issue of the relocation of Chechen refugees to unspecified third countries. The first Chechen refugees appeared in the Pankisi gorge in the autumn of 1999. Both Russian and Georgian sources figure that Georgia currently hosts more than 7,000 Chechen refugees and while Russia has expressed its readiness to organize the return of the refugees, Georgia claims that nothing has been done in this field. 

Rebel leaders have started demanding that their subordinates conduct large-scale terrorist acts in order to establish themselves as a real force in the Chechen Republic. Due to tightened controls on the Russian-Georgia border, rebels from the Pankisi gorge plan to reach Chechnya through Azerbaijan and Russia's Dagestani autonomous republic. They are currently engaged in vigorous reconnaissance of possible infiltration routes and small groups from Ruslan Gelayev's rebel band (primarily located in Georgia's Pankisi gorge) were even reported inside of Dagestan on 18 July. The Russians claims that intensive training of demolitions experts was underway in Gelayev's camps, under the guidance of a man called Dadayev. The rebels were planning to hold a series of sabotage and terrorist acts near the villages of Botlikh, Khasavjurt and Novolakskoye villages before 20 July. 

In addition to Dagestan, the extremists plan to carry out subversive acts in the Kabardino-Balkarian and Karachayevo-Cherkessian autonomous republics. The Cherkessian border guard detachment detained three horsemen (armed with two Kalashnikov assault rifles and a sniper rifle) on 16 July, who were suspected of doing route reconnaissance for the rebels.

Rebel cross-border raids from Chechnya into Dagestan were launched in August 1999, in hopes of sparking an Islamic revolt throughout the area. The current rebel leadership is apparently planning to stage another wave of terrorist acts in the above-mentioned republics, in order to present the appearance of an "all-Caucasus movement", as well as to distract federal forces from the accomplishment of missions in Chechnya. 

Georgian Defense Minister David Tevzadze told reporters on 11 July that the US-led Georgian special task force training program is going strictly according to plan and noted that reports on the lack of candidates for a special forces battalion "is factitious". The Georgians will admit to other shortages, however. The Georgian Armed Forces General Staff has only 10 of the 26 computers needed to hold a computerized command post exercise (CPX) involving Azerbaijani and Turkish officers in late July. The event at the Georgian Defense Ministry base in the town of Vaziani (on the outskirts of Tbilisi) would involve 20 officers from each participating country. - Adam Geibel.


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