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US State Department annual report highlights role of Georgia and Azerbaijan in the fight against terrorism
02 November 2019

The US State Department report says that despite successes in the fight against the so-called Islamic State "the terrorist landscape remains complex"

The US State Department has published its annual report on terrorism. Presenting the report to the media, the US National Counter Terrorism Co-ordinator, Ambassador Nathan Sales said that in 2018, most terrorist incidents around the world were concentrated in three regions: the Middle East, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa.  These three regions experienced about 85 percent of all terrorist incidents.  The 10 countries with the greatest number of terrorist incidents in 2018 contributed 75 percent of the overall number.

The report of the US State Department has sections on Azerbaijan and Georgia

Azerbaijan.

The report states that:

In 2018, the Azerbaijani government actively worked to deter, detect, and defeat terrorist efforts to move people, money, and materials across its land and maritime borders and within the South Caucasus. Azerbaijani law enforcement and security services conducted operations to disrupt and prevent terror attacks, arrested and prosecuted suspected terrorists, and prosecuted returning Azerbaijanis suspected of joining or financing terrorist groups fighting outside Azerbaijan.

The report says that in 2018 there were no terrorist incidents reported in Azerbaijan. The report however states:

In 2018, Azerbaijani law enforcement and security services reported preventing several potential terrorist attacks, including:

 · On November 14, the SSS [State Security Service] reported that five individuals were killed and more than 60 arrested while resisting the police in operations following the July 3 attack on the former mayor of Ganja, Azerbaijan's second largest city. Two police officers in subsequent demonstrations were also killed. The government alleged the attacks were part of a Shia "extremist conspiracy," however human rights defenders claim authorities took advantage of criminal acts that were unrelated to religion to kill and detain religious activists.

 · On November 23, according to press reports, the SSS reported the arrest of three individuals - Ilgar Agayev, Sahil Ibrahimov, and Namig Mammadov - suspected of financing terrorists in Syria

 · On December 9, the Baku Grave Crimes Court convicted Emin Guliyev, Asim Bakhishov, and Teyfur Aliverdiyev of fighting for al-Nusrah Front in Syria, and sentenced them to imprisonment of 13 years, nine years, and nine years, respectively.

Georgia

On Georgia, the US State Department report says:

In 2018, Georgia, a longstanding member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, continued its robust engagement with the United States across a range of counterterrorism related issues. The State Security Service of Georgia (SSSG), Georgia's lead agency regarding terrorism-related incidents and investigations, reported a decline of support for ISIS among Georgian citizens in 2018. The SSSG arrested, prosecuted, and sentenced eight individuals for supporting ISIS member Akhmet Chataev, who was killed in a counterterrorism operation in Tbilisi in 2017. The SSSG estimates that approximately 14 Georgian nationals are in Syria or Iraq supporting terrorist groups. In addition to implementing several amendments aimed at strengthening counterterrorism legislation, Georgia established a Permanent Interagency Commission, which is working on Georgia's national counterterrorism strategy and action plan.

The report says there were no reported terrorist incidents in Georgia in 2018. It adds,

In 2018, Georgia detained, prosecuted, and sentenced several Georgian nationals affiliated with Chechen ISIS member Akhmet Chataev, following his death in a SSSG-led counterterrorism operation in November 2017. SSSG-led operations in Tbilisi and Pankisi Gorge led to the detention of eight individuals. All eight were found guilty of terrorism charges. The SSSG also investigated three cases of false notifications of terrorism, one case of public incitement to terrorism and illegal purchase and storage of firearms and ammunition, and two cases of preparation of an act of terrorism.

Armenia

The report does not have a special section on Armenia.

"The terrorist landscape remains complex"

In a forward to the report, Ambassador Nathan Sales, the US National Counter Terrorism co-ordinator said

"The United States and its partners made major strides to defeat and degrade international terrorist organizations in 2018. Together, we liberated nearly all the territory ISIS previously held in Syria and Iraq, freeing 110,000 square kilometers and roughly 7.7 million men, women, and children from ISIS's brutal rule. These successes set the stage for the final destruction of the socalled "caliphate" in 2019. At the same time, the United States and its partners continued to pursue al-Qa'ida (AQ) globally, and the United States applied maximum pressure on Iran-backed terrorism, significantly expanding sanctions on Iranian state actors and proxies and building stronger international political will to counter those threats. Despite these successes, the terrorist landscape remained complex in 2018. Even as ISIS lost almost all its physical territory, the group proved its ability to adapt, especially through its efforts to inspire or direct followers online.

Over the last year, ISIS's global presence evolved with affiliates and networks conducting attacks in the Middle East, South and East Asia, and Africa. Additionally, battle-hardened terrorists headed home from the war zone in Syria and Iraq or traveled to third countries, posing new dangers. Hundreds of ISIS fighters were captured and detained by the Syrian Democratic Forces, a partner non-state actor. The United States led by example in repatriating and prosecuting American foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), and we pressed other countries to do the same. Meanwhile, homegrown terrorists, inspired by ISIS ideology, planned and executed attacks against soft targets, including hotels, restaurants, stadiums, and other public spaces.

The December 2018 shooting at a Christmas market in Strasbourg, France, which killed three people and wounded 12, demonstrated the ability of homegrown terrorists to strike in the heart of Western Europe."

The US State Department report continues to identify North Korea, Iran, Sudan and Syria as state sponsors of terrorism. It says that Iran remains the world's worst state sponsor of terrorism.

source: commonspace.eu with state.gov

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