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Ukraine detains top Islamic state commander

ISIS flag (WikiMedia)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Ukraine’s main security agency says it has arrested a key figure in the Islamic State (IS) extremist group.

Al-Bara Shishani, a Georgian national, was apprehended near Ukraine’s capital, Kiyv, the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) said in a Facebook statement on November 15.

The statement said the CIA and Georgia’s Interior Ministry participated in the operation.

Vika Klimicheva, a spokeswoman for Georgia’s state security service, confirmed the man was being held in Ukraine and said his birth name was Cezar Tokhosashvili.

Shishani has served as a deputy to Abu Omar al-Shishani, the man the Pentagon has described as the IS’s “minister of war.”

After the latter was killed in 2016, Shishani fled to Turkey and in 2018 used a fake passport to travel to Ukraine, where he continued to coordinate IS activities, the SBU said.

He was detained in the Kyiv region near a private home where he resided, the statement said, without saying when the operation too place.

“A portrait examination has proved that the detained foreigner is indeed a wanted leader of the Islamic State,” according to the SBU.

Both Shishani and al-Shishani were said to have been born in Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge region near the border with Russia’s North Caucasus region of Daghestan.