Georgia’s State Security Service (SSS) has confirmed that one of the three killed suspects in the Tbilisi counter-terrorist operation on November 22 is an Islamic State-linked, Russia citizen of Chechen origin, Ahmed Chataev.
The head of the SSS press office Nino Giorgobiani stated in a special briefing several minutes ago that two suspects were killed by Georgian law enforcers, while "Chataev exploded himself.”
Chataev,37, was named as a mastermind of the deadly terrorist attack on the Ataturk Airport in Turkey in 2016, claiming 48 lives and injuring more than 230.
Giorgobiani said the Georgian security staff had been negotiating with the suspects to make them surrender several hours before the launch of the attack.
"Together with the negotiations, law enforcers evacuated people as the suspects were sheltered in one of the flats of a residential building,” Giorgobiani said.
She stated the measures were made for avoiding victims.
Giorgobiani stated that the two killed suspects had no ID documents, and Georgia with the help of the US was trying to specify who they are.
SSS denied media speculations that two other suspects managed to flee from the scene.
The Security Service reiterated that one Georgian special unit servicemen Ivane Goloshvili was killed by the suspects and four other law enforcers were wounded.
- Chataev, nicknamed the "one-handed,” who also lost one leg during a special operation on the territory of Georgia in 2012, was listed as a terrorist by the United States in 2015 for planning attacks against US and Turkish facilities.
- Chataev is also found in the list of the UN Security Council’s Al-Qaida Sanctions.
- The man was wounded and arrested by Georgia’s law-enforcers during the notorious Lapankuri special operation in the Lopota gorge, not far from the Dagestan section of the Georgian-Russian border, in August 2012.
- However, he was soon after released on bail and the prosecutor’s office dropped the case against him due to lack of evidence.
- Soon after his release from prison in Georgia, Chatayev left the country, saying he intended to go to Austria to rehabilitate from his wounds.
- By 2015, he had moved to IS-controlled areas in Syria and Iraq.
- In the summer of 2016 Turkish law enforcers named Chataev as one of the organizers of a terrorist act in the Ataturk Airport.
Earlier today Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia Giorgi Gakharia said that based on the preliminary information, the suspects had used an illegal route to enter the country.