Terrorism: September 2, 2002


On 31 August, Georgian special services admitted that several dozen Arabs in the Pankisi Gorge maintained either direct or indirect contacts with international terrorist organizations, including Al-Qaeda. Russian TV recorded Georgian State Intelligence Department chief Avtandil Ioseliani stating that there are 120-160 armed foreign fighters in the Pankisi, with some Chechens among them. However, Georgian Ministry of State Security Nika Laliashvili said that the Arabs had left the Pankisi - except for the one with a French passport detained in the gorge two days prior, whose activities were "being investigated". Georgian had opened a criminal investigation against Halid Oldali for alleged ties with a foreign terrorist organization. Oldali arrived in Georgia in 1999, and later crossed into Chechnya to fight against Russian troops. - Adam Geibel


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