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Georgian Accused Of Recruiting For IS To Stand Trial In Chechnya


Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar, a militant group fighting in Syria, is led by Chechens.

Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar, a militant group fighting in Syria, is led by Chechens.

A 25-year-old Georgian national is to stand trial in Chechnya on charges of attempting to recruit two Chechens to fight for the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria, Russian media outlets report.

According to news reports, Beslan Cincalashvili is alleged to have resided legally in Chechnya from July through August 2014. During this time, he met with two Chechen nationals in Grozny and attempted to persuade them to travel to Syria to join militant groups.

Some news reports said that Cincalashvili was allegedly recruiting for Islamic State, while others referred only to "illegal armed groups."

The Chechen prosecutor-general said on December 4 that Cincalashvili had "numerous meetings in various places in the city of Grozny and persuaded two citizens [of Chechnya] to travel to Syria to join illegal armed groups and participate in the war against the legitimate government in order to overthrow it and establish a religious-extremist state."

According to the investigators, Cincalashvili promised the two Chechen men assistance with passports and in traveling to Syria via Georgia.

This is the first reported case of a Georgian national allegedly personally recruiting Chechen nationals in Chechnya to fight in Syria.

Very little information exists about recruitment networks for Chechens who travel to Syria from Chechnya. Not all of the ethnic Chechens fighting in Syria, including for Islamic State, came from Chechnya itself but are members of the Chechen diaspora in Europe and Turkey.

The reports of the case against Cincalashvili include only basic details and do not say whether the Georgian was allegedly part of a wider recruitment network or if he acted alone.

It is also not clear which group Cincalashvili was allegedly recruiting for. The Russian and Chechen authorities have often not made distinctions between the various armed rebel groups in Syria, because Moscow's official line on the Syrian insurgency is that all rebel factions -- including the moderate Western-backed Free Syrian Army -- are illegal terror groups.

Both Moscow and Grozny are also very sensitive about referring to the Caucasus Emirate, the North Caucasus-based militant Islamist group that seeks to overthrow the existing governments in the North Caucasus and install an Islamic state. If Cincalashvili had recruited for any of the pro-Caucasus Emirate groups fighting in Syria, notably the Chechen-led Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar, the Chechen prosecutor would not mention this.

No date has yet been set for Cincalashvili's trial, according to reports.

-- Joanna Paraszczuk

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world. The blog's primary author, James Miller, closely covered the first three years of the Arab Spring, with a focus on Syria, and is now the managing editor of The Interpreter, where he covers Russia's foreign and domestic policy and the Kremlin's wars in Syria and Ukraine. Follow him on Twitter: @Millermena

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