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13 Oct, 2009 17:00

FSB accuses Georgia of links with Al Qaeda militants

The head of the Russian Federal Security Service claims Georgian special services are helping Al Qaeda members to wage terrorism in Russia’s southern regions.

Speaking with the media on Tuesday, Aleksandr Bortnikov, referred to a surge in militant attacks in Russia’s southern republics according to Interfax.

“Bandits have returned to ‘suicide terrorist’ tactics. The number of armed attacks on law enforcement officers and public servants has increased.”

Since June, nineteen terror acts have been prevented in the region, with 178 militants eliminated or arrested, including an Al Qaeda member who coordinated attacks.

The head of the FSB went on to accuse Georgian special services of aiding the militants in Russia.

“Recorded audio reports discovered at militant bases point to the fact that they and Al Qaeda representatives have established contacts with Georgia’s special services, and they aided in training and transporting terrorists into the Chechen Republic’s territory,” and adding, “They also attempt to deliver weapons, explosives and money to commit sabotage at sensitive facilities in Dagestan, primarily at gas and oil pipelines.”

Bortnikov also reported that leaders of a local militant gang, suspects of the attempt to assassinate Ingushetian President, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, in late June, have been killed in a firefight.

He also revealed that a suicide bomber was captured in Moscow in September, when an individual planning an attack scheduled for Moscow City Day was intercepted. Other members of the five strong group had been previously arrested.

Tbilisi has denied allegations of any Georgian links with terrorists. ITAR TASS agency reports that the Georgian Parliament Vice-Speaker, Paata Davitaya, believes the allegations are timed to influence the visit to Moscow by American Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton:

“These ungrounded statements have been made to coincide with the visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Moscow. Russia wants at least imagined arguments on the main controversial point in Russo-American relations – Georgia.”

The chairman of Georgia's parliament, David Bakradze, called Bortnikov's statement preposterous.

“I think such statements serve a twofold purpose,” Bakradze said. “First, to portray Georgia as an unceasing foe, and thus to explain aggression toward the country. Second, to explain why Russia has unending problems in the Northern Caucasus, after making a loud statement that it has no such issues in the region.”

Security in several republics in the North Caucasus has long been a source of headache for the Russian Security Services. In April, the anti-terrorist operation in Chechnya was officially announced to be over. However, the situation in adjacent territories has been far from stable.