Germany – a safe haven for Chechen terrorists?

The so-called “Tiergarten Murder Trial”, which is currently taking place before the Berlin Court of Appeal, is about an alleged contract murder of a “Georgian asylum seeker” in the Kleiner Tiergarten in Berlin on August 23, 2019.

But the “Georgian” is actually the Chechen terrorist Selimchan Changoshvili, which has largely been concealed in mainstream reporting or at least played down by the media during the Berlin trial.

Changoshvili, who, according to the book To Remove a Witness by Islam Sayadaew, called himself the “Emir of the Pankissi Jamaat” in August 2008, comes from the Georgian Pankissi Valley, where the Chechen minority of Kisten lives. Sayadaew knows what he’s writing about. He was once a high-ranking militiaman of the Chechen Islamists who was also active in Georgia. So he knew Changoshvili well.

The Pankissi valley, from which Changoshvili originates, is also considered one of the breeding grounds of al-Qaeda and later of the “Islamic State” (IS). Changoshvili himself fought alongside Chechen Islamists during the Second Chechen War against Russia and his own compatriots, who wanted to come to an understanding with Moscow.

In addition, Changoshvili is considered a supporter of the so-called “Caucasus Emirate”, a proclaimed, unrecognized Islamist state in the North Caucasus. This is also anything but a secret: The Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote on August 26, 2019, just three days after the death of Changoshvili, that he had fought against Russia in the Second Chechnya War “as a supporter of the rebel group ‘Caucasian Emirate’” and with no reference to Russian sources, but rather on the “findings of German security authorities”.

The “Caucasus Emirate” is considered a magnet for the global Islamist terror scene. Both Moscow and Washington refer to the Caucasus emirate as a “terrorist organization”. The UN Security Council also put the Caucasus emirate on a list of organizations that cooperate with the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda.

In his book To Remove a Witness, Islam Sayadaew also points out another interesting fact: In an interview with Changoshvili, he confided that he no longer felt safe in Georgia. Changoshvili claimed that he could be the target of an assassination at any time. Interestingly enough, however, he did not feel threatened by the Russian secret services, but rather by the Georgian ones, with whom he had even co-operated for a while.

If Sayadaev is to be believed, Changoshvili was one of the leaders in a military provocation in 2012 in the Georgian Lopota Valley, near the border with Dagestan, which belongs to the Russian Federation. Several militants and members of the Georgian security forces were killed in intense fighting in the incident. On the US news website TheDailyBeast, a member of the Georgian security services suspected that Chechen Islamists from the Pankissi Valley had tried to advance into Dagestan – allegedly to give Moscow an excuse to attack Georgia.

Myths and legends surround this incident, which has not yet been clarified. Book author Sayadaew believes in a completely different version: Allegedly, the militant Chechens and the Georgian secret service planned this provocation directed against Russia with the aim of helping the pro-Western and thoroughly anti-Russian Georgian politician Mikheil Saakashvili again to be elected to the office of President.

Sayadaew’s book throws a spotlight on the complexity of the conflicts in the Caucasus, on constantly changing alliances and archaic blood feuds – the world of Selimchan Changoshvili. No wonder that, after the Chechen murder, the German security authorities are assuming “a thousand possibilities” as to who could have killed Changoshvili, as the Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote at the time.

This article was translated from the German news magazine ZUERST available here

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