Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001-Eurasia Overview, Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, US Department of State, 21 May 2002
The Georgian Government condemned the September 11 terrorist attacks and supports the international Coalition’s fight against terrorism. Immediately following the attacks, the Georgian border guard troops along the border with Russia went on high alert to monitor the passage of potential terrorists in the area. In early October, Tbilisi offered the United States the use of its airfields and airspace.
Georgia continued to face spillover violence from the Chechen conflict, including a short period of fighting in the separatist region of Abkhazia and bombings by aircraft from Russian territory on Georgia under the guise of antiterrorist operations. Like Azerbaijan, Georgia also contended with international mujahidin using Georgia as a conduit for financial and logistic support for the mujahidin and Chechen fighters. The Georgian Government has not been able to establish effective control over the eastern part of the country. In early October, Georgian authorities extradited 13 Chechen guerrillas to Russia, moving closer to cooperation with Russia. President Shevardnadze in November promised to cooperate with Russia in apprehending Chechen separatist fighters and foreign mujahidin in the Pankisi Gorge—a region in northern Georgia that Russian authorities accuse Georgia of allowing Chechen terrorists to use as a safehaven—if Moscow furnishes T’blisi with concrete information on their whereabouts and alleged wrongdoing. The United States has provided training and other assistance to help Georgian authorities implement tighter counterterrorism controls in problem areas.
Kidnappings continued to be a problem in Georgia. Two Spanish businessmen who were kidnapped on 30 November 2000 and held near the Pankisi Gorge were released on 8 December 2001. A Japanese journalist was taken hostage in the Pankisi Gorge in August and released on 9 December.
Statement at Meeting with Italian Prime Minister S. Berlusconi at Camp David, 14 September 2002
I made it very clear to the Georgian government that we expected them to rout out the al Qaeda-type terrorists in the Pankisi Gorge. We are working with the Georgian government and training Georgian troops. I have told Vladimir Putin that he must give the Georgians a chance to achieve a common objective, an objective that's important for Georgia, an objective that's important for Russia, an objective important for the United States, and that is to get the al Qaeda killers and bring them to justice. And so I urge him to continue to work with us to allow the Georgians -- troops -- to do their job.
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