Interior Minister, Irakli Garibashvili, said that a video that emerged on the internet last week threatening Georgian troops in Afghanistan and taking jihad to Georgia, had nothing to do with the Taliban and was in fact uploaded from Georgia.
Speaking with journalists after a session of the National Security Council, Garibashvili said: “I can confirm that origination of this video has nothing to do with the Taliban.”
“According to available data, although I do not want to prejudge the ongoing investigation, the video was uploaded from within Georgia,” Garibashvili said.
“IP address has been identified and the location pinpointed,” the Interior Minister said.
“Active investigative measures are underway right now. FBI representatives are involved; the U.S. is actively supporting us, as well as Israel,” Garibashvili said.
YouTube video, titled “Taliban Jihad Against Georgian Troops in Afghanistan”, emerged on the internet hours before truck bomb attack in the southern Afghan province of Helmand killed seven Georgian troops on June 6. Three Georgian servicemen were killed in Helmand in a similar attack on May 13.
These two issues were on top of the agenda of the June 11 National Security Council session, which was convened by President Saakashvili after he demanded on June 8 from the Interior Minister to “immediately” identify those who had “produced and commissioned” the video. Saakashvili suggested that the Interior Ministry was delaying the probe; lawmakers from Saakashvili’s UNM party called for setting up of a parliamentary investigative commission saying that the Interior Ministry was too slow with its investigation and alleging that the Ministry was possibly trying to cover up those behind the video.
Garibashvili dismissed allegations by some UNM parliamentarians that the investigation was ongoing very slowly as “incompetent”.
“They either have no idea about investigations or their remarks simply aim at making PR,” he said. “If they do not trust the investigation, which is being conducted together with FBI let them say it publicly; otherwise let them wait for the investigation results.”
“According to initial assessment the purpose of this video probably was to seed panic in the society,” the Interior Minister said.
Another issue discussed at Tuesday’s NSC session was related to recent attack on the Georgian troops in Afghanistan in which seven soldiers died. Defense Minister Irakli Alasania said after the meeting that he briefed the NSC about measures to boost security of the Georgian troops in Afghanistan.
Chief of the joint staff of the Georgian armed forces Irakli Dzneladze and his deputy Vakhtang Kapanadze were also present at the NSC session.
Other officials, who participated in the meeting, were Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze; chief of th intelligence service Gela Bezhuashvili; secretary of the National Security Council Giga Bokeria and his deputies; leader of the parliamentary minority group Davit Bakradze and Vice Speaker of Parliament from UNM Gia Baramidze, as well as Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava and chief of the President’s administration Andro Barnovi.
PM Ivanishvili was absent. He said earlier on June 11 that there was too much hype over NSC sessions, which, he said, the President started to convene after a lengthy pause and only after GD started questioning efficiency of NSC.
“I have seen the agenda of [Tuesday’s NSC session] – ISAF and [‘jihad threat’] video will be discussed – I think right now none of these issues are so interesting for me to go to the session,” Ivanishvili said, adding that if he sees that NSC gathers not just for the purpose of a meeting itself, he will attend next sessions.
In his opening remarks at the June 11 NSC session, President Saakashvili said: “Those who attended the previous [NSC] session have seen that in this format, behind the closed doors, many issues are being decided much easier.”
After the meeting Interior Minister Garibashvili said that he respected institutions, including NSC, “but as of today I think that this [NSC] is absolutely inapt and inefficient.”
“I regret if Mr. Garibashvili has such a position,” Bokeria said and suggested that voicing such a position was apparently an attempt by Garibashvili to justify “irresponsible” stance of the Prime Minister, who has snubbed the NSC session for a second time already.
After the meeting Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze said that a separate session of NSC would be held to discuss issues related to dragging out of nomination by the President of ambassadorial candidates selected by the Foreign Ministry.