Update as of 16 September — Al Bara has been confirmed alive, as are his wife and children.
Another update, as of 5 p.m. BST on 2 September — it seems like Al Bara’s family in Pankisi are not 100% sure whether he is actually alive or not, since they only received one message that is definitely him but after that nothing.
They wanted to believe in the best possible outcome — some of them still believe in it. But others seem not so sure.
I don’t like updating posts because it is confusing for readers. Usually I would make a new post. But in this case I will update this one, not only because I want to report correct information but because it’s a good way to illustrate how confusing information from Syria is.
I reported, based on sources (social media and sources in Georgia) that Al Bara Pankisi, a Kist (ethnic Chechen) from the Pankisi Gorge in Syria, had been reported killed in Syria along with his pregnant wife and two children. You can read my original post below. Al Bara was reported killed alongside his wife and two children when a car they were travelling in was shot at. The reason the news got out is because someone in Syria contacted Al Bara’s friends/relatives in Georgia and reported that it was him in the car. But last night his friends reported that they managed to talk to Al Bara and he and his family are alive and well. No one knows who was in the car, or whether it was a Chechen family or not.
So yes, Syria is a war zone and details of what is happening are often hard to verify, particularly when it comes to deaths. In this case, someone’s relatives and friends were led to believe that someone had been killed. Apart from the stress of having a relative or friend in Syria, imagine what the past few days must have felt like for the relatives and friends of Al Bara!
According to Kavkaz Reali, Al Bara (aka Леван Тохосашвили/ Levan Tokhosashvili) was reportedly killed alongside his wife Leyla Gaurgashvili /Лейла Гаургашвили, aged 26 and children when the car in which they were traveling was shot at.
His two sons were also killed.
Al Bara was from the village of Omalo in Pankisi. He was originally based in Latakia province, and was close with other Kists including Salakhuddin Shishani. Al Bara had been the leader of his own very small jamaat in Latakia, but sometime in around early 2016 (the timing is not clear) went over to Islamic State. This decision shocked those who had known him in Latakia. The explanation that I was given was that Al Bara was persuaded to join IS by Umar Shishani, whom he had known since childhood. Those who had known him were unsure of his fate, and there had been previous rumors that he had been killed.
Here is Al Bara with another Kist who joined and was killed in IS, Umar Margoshvili.