The US Department of State said in its recent report on terrorism that in 2019 Georgia, “a longstanding member” of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, “continued its robust engagement” with the US across a range of counterterrorism-related issues.
“Overview: In 2019, Georgia, a longstanding member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, continued its robust engagement with the United States across a range of CT-related issues. Georgia participated in numerous bilateral CT exercises and trainings with the United States and remained a strong U.S. security partner. The State Security Service of Georgia (SSSG) is Georgia’s lead agency for terrorism-related incidents and investigations. In addition to implementing several amendments to the criminal code aimed at strengthening CT legislation, Georgia adopted its three-year National Strategy for the Fight Against Terrorism and action plan following the establishment of its SSSG-led Permanent Interagency Commission in 2018.
2019 Terrorist Incidents: There were no terrorist incidents in Georgia in 2019.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Georgia is generally capable of detecting, deterring, and responding to terrorism incidents. The SSSG is the lead agency handling terrorism-related incidents and investigations, and is generally well equipped and well trained. The SSSG’s Counterterrorism Unit continues to receive regular training and equipment. In January, recognizing the need for a whole-of-government response to the challenges of terrorism, the Georgian government approved the National Strategy of Georgia on the Fight Against Terrorism 2019-2021 with an accompanying action plan. The SSSG-chaired Permanent Interagency Commission is responsible for oversight of the strategy and action plan and providing annual status reports on implementation. In 2019, Georgia also carried out exercises to enhance interoperability and cooperation between agencies with CT-related mandates.
Georgia continued in 2019 to improve its border, maritime, and aviation security. The EU is supporting Georgia with implementation of its API/PNR data systems in line with UNSCR 2396. In November, Georgian authorities cooperated closely with the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and other international partners in the SBU’s detention of ISIS commander and Georgian citizen Tsezar Tokhosashvili, aka Al Bara Shishani, in Ukraine. Tokhosashvili, who was deputy to former ISIS commander and Georgian citizen Tarkhan Batirashvili, aka Abu Omar al Shishani, entered Ukraine on falsified documents in 2018 and had been coordinating ISIS activities from Ukraine over the past year.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Georgia is a member of MONEYVAL. Georgia’s FIU, the Financial Monitoring Service of Georgia (FMS), is a member of the Egmont Group. Georgia is also a member of the Defeat ISIS Coalition’s CIFG.
On October 30, Georgia adopted the Law on Facilitating the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing, which the FMS drafted. The new legislation aims to create effective monitoring and enforcement mechanisms, enhances the ability of law enforcement to retrieve information from the FMS, and includes insurance brokers, law firms, and certified accountants in the list of reporting entities.
Countering Violent Extremism: In 2019, Georgia continued its CVE efforts by focusing on initiatives in education, civic and political participation, media and access to information, gender equality, preserving minority culture and identity, justice and law-enforcement activities, and social and regional integration.
In June, Georgia and the OSCE jointly hosted a seminar on the involvement of society in the prevention of terrorism. The seminar, the first of its kind to be hosted in Tbilisi, emphasized prevention-oriented measures as a key component of Georgia’s National Strategy on the Fight Against Terrorism. In 2019, Georgia continued to work with international and local partners on multi-year CVE projects including the “Pankisi Eco-Links” project with USAID, which aims to bridge inter-community divides and economic and social isolation in the Pankisi Gorge region by facilitating people-to-people interactions around economic incentives.
International and Regional Cooperation: Georgia is actively engaged on CT issues at the international, regional, and bilateral levels. Georgia cooperates closely with NATO; the CoE; the OSCE; the Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation; and the Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova (GUAM) Organization for Democracy and Economic Development.
In November, Georgia and the EU jointly hosted a seminar for media and civil society representatives in Georgia on the role of media in countering terrorism and organized crime. The seminar aimed to deepen cooperation between media and law enforcement on CT issues, and experts from the United Kingdom presented best practices.
In 2019, Georgia participated in the third and fourth plenary meetings of the CoE’s CT committee. The SSSG also represented Georgia in the 22nd and 23rd sessions of GUAM’s Counterterrorism sub-working group”, - reads the report.