Russia accuses Georgia of aiding al-Qaeda in North Caucasus



It may not make headlines in Western media, but Russia’s low-intensity war in Chechnya and Dagestan continues, with scores of separatists and government agents dying on an almost daily basis. Last week, Vyacheslav Shanshin the Dagestan regional director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB, announced the killing by FSB agents of Makhmoud Mokhammed Shaaban. Egyptian-born Shaaban is said to have co-founded the al-Qaeda network in the Russian North Caucasus, along with Saudi-born Ibn al-Khattab, whom the FSB managed to poison in 2002, with the help of a double agent. Shanshin also said that, like al-Khattab, Shaaban was partially funded and equipped by the Georgian secret services. This is not the first time the FSB accuses Tbilisi of siding with al-Qaeda-linked Islamist separatists in the Russian North Caucasus. Last October, FSB director Alexander Bortnikov claimed that the FSB’s counterintelligence department had seized a number of “audio reports” from Islamist militants active in the Russian Caucasus, which allegedly showed that a number of “al-Qaeda emissaries” routinely mediate between militants in Russia and “Georgian special services”. The Georgian government has rejected all such allegations. On February 4, the country’s Ministry of the Interior dismissed the allegations that Tbilisi funded Shaaban as “anti-Georgian propaganda”.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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