Al Bara Pankisi Thought To Have Joined IS

Al Bara Pankisi (also known as Al Bara Shishani), an ethnic Chechen fighter from the Pankisi Gorge in Georgia, has joined the IS group, sources say.

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Al Bara Pankisi was previously based in Latakia province and had been the leader of a small group of mostly North Caucasian militants.

He was wounded in March 2015 in fighting around Handarat in Aleppo province.

Given the rift between Chechen militants in Latakia and IS, Al Bara’s “defection” to IS is a rather strange move.

Al Bara is a close associate of Tarkhan Batirashvili (Umar Shishani) and grew up with him in Pankisi, sources say — which could explain the pull of the IS group. He is (or was — given his “defection” to IS) associated with the prominent Salafist preacher from Pankisi Abdul Kerim Pankisky, who was also known by Umar Shishani and Sayfullakh Shishani, another Pankisi Kist.