Does Georgia Have The Will, Or A Way, To Stop Pankisi Residents From Joining IS?

Tina Borchashvili’s fears that her missing son might have gone to the Middle East to fight alongside militants seem to reflect concerns of a growing number of Pankisi residents. (file photo)

On April 16, Georgian Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri announced that the border guard who allowed two teenagers to leave the country for Turkey on their way to join Islamic State (IS) in Syria will be punished.

The two teens — 16-year-old Muslim Kushtanashvili and 18-year-old Ramzan Bagakashvili, both ethnic Kists from the Pankisi Gorge — flew to Turkey from an airport in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, sometime around April 2. A photograph apparently showing the two in Syria was published by several Georgian media outlets this week.

The teens’ parents and community leaders in the Pankisi Gorge criticized the security authorities in the Tbilisi airport for allowing a minor to leave the country unchallenged…