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Georgia arrests four for alleged links to Islamic State




Georgia has arrested four of its nationals on suspicion of having links with the Islamic State group, the ex-Soviet country’s officials said Tuesday.

The four men were detained on Sunday as police raided their houses in the village of Nasakirali in western Georgia after receiving information “identifying several individuals who support Islamic State ideology,” deputy chief of Georgia’s State Security Agency, Levan Izoria, told journalists.

He said “Islamic State flags, cylinder-shaped explosive devices, hand grenades and firearms” were found in their houses.

“Investigative measures are ongoing to substantiate that the arrested persons have links with the Islamic State and that they were providing assistance in terrorist activities,” he added.

Some 50 Georgians –- including one of the most feared commanders with the Islamic State group in Syria, Omar Al-Shishani, — are believed to be fighting currently alongside the IS militants in Syria and Iraq, the Caucasus nation’s interior ministry had said.

They are mostly residents of the Pankisi Gorge populated by an ethnic-Chechen Muslim minority, the Kists, earning the country’s north-eastern area a reputation as a jihadist hotbed.

In June, a Salafi imam of Pankisi’s Jokolo village was arrested on charges of recruiting fighters for the IS.

Around 25,000 foreign fighters from over 100 countries are involved in armed conflicts worldwide, with the highest numbers in Syria, Iraq and increasingly Libya, according to a United Nations report published this year.

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