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GT: Uproar entailed by Arnaut\'s visit to Tbilisi

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  • Zviad Pochkhua
    http://www.georgiantimes.ge/fullview1.php?id=546&cat1=4 Uproar entailed by Arnaut s visit to Tbilisi Why are the refugees frequently confused with the
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 3 9:34 AM
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      http://www.georgiantimes.ge/fullview1.php?id=546&cat1=4

      Uproar entailed by Arnaut\'s visit to Tbilisi


      Why are the refugees frequently confused with the Mojaheddins?


      By Keti Lomaia, Georgian Times / 03.02.03



      \"Al-Qaeda Network in Georgia\" was a title of an article published in the 24 Saati (24 Hour)-Georgian TV Company Rustavi 2 newspaper, stirred up concerns among the Chechen refugees. According to our citizens, a humanitarian organization MADLI mentioned in the article as the Al-Qaeda assisting organization, actually from the very day of its foundation helps the Chechen refugees and not only the Chechen refugees as it turned out.

      The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) focused attention on the MADLI due to its connections with the US organization Benevolence leader, Arnaut, which was arrested not long ago upon legal perjury charges. He allegedly had links with Bin Laden. In February 2000, Arnaut visited Tbilisi.

      The Chechen refugees asked our paper to look into the question and check the materials published by the 24 Saati. Frankly speaking, we were stunned to discover that the mentioned materials do not correspond to the reality. The article was published without interviewing the MADLI representatives and studying the documentation outlining the organization activities.

      Marat Avlagirov, Director General of the MADLI, was born in 1970. After graduating high school in Grozno, he engaged in the private business. As the military operations were launched in Chechnya, his family fled to Georgia and established in Tbilisi living at 24 Chikovani Street.

      The organization has never had an office. That is why official information contains his residence address. The organization members explain that any additional expenses incurred were they for office rent or something else would have been highly unjustifiable while their Chechen refugees are on the verge of hunger. So, Avlagirov\'s residence was quite sufficient to carry on their activities.

      \"My family was more or less supported, but a vast majority of refugees are totally vulnerable under the threat of dying from hunger and cold. Along with my friend Terminal (Temur) Ainurkaev we decided to turn to the international humanitarian organizations for assistance. We searched them through internet. Here I would like you to pay particular attention to the fact that we did not address only Muslim organizations. We contacted all relevant institutions. Shortly, we got a feedback from the US organization called Benevolence, British organization called Muslim Hands and the US organization ICNA. A bit later, a German organization Muslim Helfen also contacted us.

      In November 1999 Benevolence and ICNA sent special representatives to Georgia to study the situation concerning the Chechen refugees.

      Tarik Moahed and Nafiz Mohamed went to the Pankisi Gorge upon our request. \"They could see with their own eyes where and how the Chechen refugees lived. Then they returned to Tbilisi. As these people were sent to get deeper insight and not launch any actions, they had only little money with them, which was enough to buy products. With the small vehicle packed, we took them to Pankisi. Before our departure, they told us that it would be very complicated for their organizations to send representatives to supervise and coordinate every charitable action and offered us to establish a new organization locally, which would bear the responsibility of distributing humanitarian assistance among the refugees. Initially we rejected the offer, as we did not have any background and experience in the matter. We simply were there with a huge willingness to bring some relief to the vulnerable Chechen families.\"

      The MADLI and International
      \"In 1999 the Madli Association was founded in Tbilisi. It was composed of international staff. 'Where these people met each other is yet unknown' (excerpt from the 24 Saati). If the author of the article had shown a little interest, he could have easily found that by 1999 Avlagirov and Ainurkaev had been living in Tbilisi as military operations were going on in their homeland. As for Tarik Mohamed, US citizen, he was sent to Georgia by the ICNA, Canadian citizen Nafiz Mokamed - by Benevolence. Avlagirov and Ainiurkaev claim that they met these men in 1999 in Tbilisi and followed their advice by establishing a humanitarian organization called MADLI.

      Temur Ainiurkaev also explained how a Georgian citizen was included among the founders: \"As we did not hold Georgian citizenship we were not eligible to legally establish an organization. That\'s why we contacted a friend of mine, Archil Khatiashvili, who just provided us with legal ground for founding the organization. However, he was never involved and is not currently involved in any activities carried out by our organization.\"

      We contacted Mr. Khatiashvili who confirmed that he denied giving comments to the 24 Saati reporter for one simple reason: he had nothing in common with the MADLI activities except for his close friends Avlagirov and Ainurkaev-managers of the organization.

      Let\'s get back to Avlagirov\'s elucidation: \"ICNA funded a medical out-patient clinic in the village of Duisi. 6 physicians were employed by the clinic providing medical services not only to the refugees, but also to the local population. Besides, diagnosed patients were also given medicines. The project also envisaged hospitalization of hard-up patients in the Tbilisi clinics. Within this program the MADLI covered medical expenses for Georgian citizens too.

      How the rights of human rights defender were violated.

      The article published in the 24 Saati gives comments of Aslanbek Abdurzakov, head of the Human Rights Committee of Chechnya, which reads: \"I have met Avlagirov several times. I did express my gratitude to him for arranging the medical care in Duisi, but now refugees are not admitted to the hospital.\"

      We contacted Mr. Abdurzakov, who was outraged for distorting his comments. \"Search for Al-Qaeda in the Pankisi gorge is an utter nonsense to put it very simply. The journalist, who was interested whether refugees residing in Pankisi had received military uniforms through humanitarian cargo, contacted me some time ago. I replied that I had never heard anything like that. Then he asked about medical care in Pankisi to which I clearly answered that there is an out-patient with 5 doctors financed by the Georgian Ministry of Health. There is also a dentists\' office financed by the MADLI, providing free service to all patients. Then he touched the MADLI and some $600,000 transferred to them for assisting refugees. I said that I did not know anything about that as it was beyond my competence and I was not acquainted with the details. The only thing I know is that they are doing a lot of good things for the people. The sum specified in the article--namely assistance from $35 up to $75 provided to orphans does not reflect the truth. The article also gives a list of food products distributed among the refugees, despite my clear explanations that these products are delivered by the Red Cross organization. The MADLI distributes the products only twice a year, during the Muslim festivals.

      Mojaheddins or orphans?

      With the help of the Madli, various humanitarian organizations give orphans financial aid with the maximum limit of $31.5.

      Marat Avlagirov: \"Initially Benevolence allocated assistance for 75 children which amounted $31.5 per month for each of them. Later, the association added 17 children to the list. Besides, a German organization provided 30 Australian dollars monthly, English organization - $26.6. I have no idea where the journalist found those huge sums. From the day of our establishment until today the Benevolence has transferred $110,000. How they came up with $600,000 I don\'t know. We have never received cash. All of the mentioned organizations have made only bank transfers and anyone interested can track the transfer and disbursement accounts in the TBC Bank. In fact, many law-enforcement structures have many times checked the bank documentation, which are absolutely transparent.

      Arnaut in Georgia
      \"Was Mr. Arnaut, the Benevolence Director in Tbilisi?\" asks the 24 Saati journalist. The MADLI director confirms that he was in Tbilisi and Pankisi too. \"He came to Georgia under his true name. We asked him to finance the hospital in Pankisi but unfortunately the project failed. I do not know what activities this man leads, but what I know is that his organization transferred certain sum to our account. I can also confirm that not a single organization has ever made financial operations through the help of MADLI. I am stressing that we are assisting only vulnerable refugees and not boyeviks or mojaheddins as the article tries to picture. And if we were silently doing the good and kind things we\'ve done, it was because we believe that such things do not need any advertising. It is our policy and principle. Chechen refugees and the Duisi Gamgebeli (local self governor) told us that frequently a majority of the population did not even know that Madli stood behind the provided assistance."

      In the Madli documentation we came across the facts verifying that this organization has many times helped IDPs from Abkhazia.

      \"In May 2002 Arnaut was arrested. Shortly newspapers published lists of organizations, which were financed by the Benevolence. Of course, the MADLI was included. Competent authorities carefully checked and inspected our documentation and found that only $110,000 was transferred to our account by the mentioned organization. Mr. Aldagirov did not mention but we have nevertheless found that the MADLI documentation and activities were studied by the FBI visiting Tbilisi specifically for that purpose. However, neither they nor the Georgian security services found anything suspicious.

      Benevolence or malevolence?

      Our investigation showed that in 2000 the MADLI opened a traditional Islamic school in Pankisi. The project was financed by the British humanitarian organization. Jarap Khangoshvili, the Duisi Gamgebeli, confirmed that the opening of the school was agreed with them and the village elders. As the Gamgebeli told us, MADLI is almost the only organization bringing to the refugees and local Kists some relief. The same organization has funded the boxing school in Duisi.
      \"I have no idea who Naim Uddin and Amjet Tophik are and why the 24 Saati journalist needed to claim that I had connections with these persons. Your colleague also alleges that Uddin gave me $5,000 to help the refugees. I am reiterating that I have never received any cash."

      It is totally unclear on what grounds the journalist claims that the MADLI accounts served the needs of Mojaheddins and boyeviks. There are a lot of evidences and witnesses of where and on what the sums were spent. In case there was a will of the journalist, he could have easily found the evidence and people.



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • mariuslab2002 <mariuslab@shaw.ca>
      His visit to Tbilisi was followed by his trip to refugee camps in Ingushetia, the link below has photos of him in the Sputnik refugee camp and in Nazran with
      Message 2 of 2 , Feb 3 6:28 PM
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        His visit to Tbilisi was followed by his trip to refugee camps in
        Ingushetia, the link below has photos of him in the Sputnik refugee
        camp and in Nazran with Chechen orphans. BIF also tried to set up a
        hospital in the village of Duisi in the Pankisi Gorge.


        As the GT article and some other pieces of info state, Arnout is
        being accused of having links with ben Laden, re: the excerpt below
        How true are those accusations it's hard to know. If I'm not mistaken
        he denies them completely, although he admitted that he visited
        Afghanistan in the 80's (I've seen picture of him from Afghanistan
        where he holds Kalashnikov machine gun - still this doesn't mean a
        lot)

        ----------------------------------------------------------------------
        In May of 2002, however, Major Scott Lundy, a spokesman for SFOR, the
        Nato-led international military force in Bosnia, said US Federal
        Bureau of Investigation agents had raided a Bosnian-linked charity in
        Chicago and arrested Enaam Arnout, its executive director.

        In Sarajevo SFOR and the Bosnian police said they found weapons,
        military manuals and state security documents in the offices of
        Bosanska Idealna Futura (BIF). BIF had taken over the local
        operations of the Benevolence International Foundation, whose
        executive director was Syrian-born Mr Arnout. "Without going into
        detail, police found evidence of direct communications between Mr
        Arnout and Osama bin Laden," said Mr Lundy.

        Many Islamic networks and organisations blossomed during the Bosnia
        war, some of them backed by Saudi Arabia. Its members were mainly
        recruited from the several thousand mujahideen fighters who joined
        the Bosnian army to fight against Serb and Croat armies during the
        early 1990s. But one condition of the 1996 Dayton agreement, which
        ended the wars in Bosnia, was that the mujahideen quit the army and
        leave Bosnia altogether. Some stayed and settled down but the exact
        number remains vague.

        Others found work in Saudi-backed charities, which SFOR and the
        Bosnian police raided earlier this year.
        ----------------------------------------------------------------------


        http://www.benevolence.org/projects/chechnya/galleries/ingush51.asp


        ----------------------------------------------------------------------
        --- In chechnya-sl@yahoogroups.com, "Zviad Pochkhua" <pochkhua@g...>
        wrote:
        > http://www.georgiantimes.ge/fullview1.php?id=546&cat1=4
        >
        > Uproar entailed by Arnaut\'s visit to Tbilisi
        >
        >
        > Why are the refugees frequently confused with the Mojaheddins?
        >
        >
        > By Keti Lomaia, Georgian Times / 03.02.03
        >
        >
        >
        > \"Al-Qaeda Network in Georgia\" was a title of an article published
        in the 24 Saati (24 Hour)-Georgian TV Company Rustavi 2 newspaper,
        stirred up concerns among the Chechen refugees. According to our
        citizens, a humanitarian organization MADLI mentioned in the article
        as the Al-Qaeda assisting organization, actually from the very day of
        its foundation helps the Chechen refugees and not only the Chechen
        refugees as it turned out.
        >
        > The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) focused attention on
        the MADLI due to its connections with the US organization Benevolence
        leader, Arnaut, which was arrested not long ago upon legal perjury
        charges. He allegedly had links with Bin Laden. In February 2000,
        Arnaut visited Tbilisi.
        >
        > The Chechen refugees asked our paper to look into the question and
        check the materials published by the 24 Saati. Frankly speaking, we
        were stunned to discover that the mentioned materials do not
        correspond to the reality. The article was published without
        interviewing the MADLI representatives and studying the documentation
        outlining the organization activities.
        >
        > Marat Avlagirov, Director General of the MADLI, was born in 1970.
        After graduating high school in Grozno, he engaged in the private
        business. As the military operations were launched in Chechnya, his
        family fled to Georgia and established in Tbilisi living at 24
        Chikovani Street.
        >
        > The organization has never had an office. That is why official
        information contains his residence address. The organization members
        explain that any additional expenses incurred were they for office
        rent or something else would have been highly unjustifiable while
        their Chechen refugees are on the verge of hunger. So, Avlagirov\'s
        residence was quite sufficient to carry on their activities.
        >
        > \"My family was more or less supported, but a vast majority of
        refugees are totally vulnerable under the threat of dying from hunger
        and cold. Along with my friend Terminal (Temur) Ainurkaev we decided
        to turn to the international humanitarian organizations for
        assistance. We searched them through internet. Here I would like you
        to pay particular attention to the fact that we did not address only
        Muslim organizations. We contacted all relevant institutions.
        Shortly, we got a feedback from the US organization called
        Benevolence, British organization called Muslim Hands and the US
        organization ICNA. A bit later, a German organization Muslim Helfen
        also contacted us.
        >
        > In November 1999 Benevolence and ICNA sent special representatives
        to Georgia to study the situation concerning the Chechen refugees.
        >
        > Tarik Moahed and Nafiz Mohamed went to the Pankisi Gorge upon our
        request. \"They could see with their own eyes where and how the
        Chechen refugees lived. Then they returned to Tbilisi. As these
        people were sent to get deeper insight and not launch any actions,
        they had only little money with them, which was enough to buy
        products. With the small vehicle packed, we took them to Pankisi.
        Before our departure, they told us that it would be very complicated
        for their organizations to send representatives to supervise and
        coordinate every charitable action and offered us to establish a new
        organization locally, which would bear the responsibility of
        distributing humanitarian assistance among the refugees. Initially we
        rejected the offer, as we did not have any background and experience
        in the matter. We simply were there with a huge willingness to bring
        some relief to the vulnerable Chechen families.\"
        >
        > The MADLI and International
        > \"In 1999 the Madli Association was founded in Tbilisi. It was
        composed of international staff. 'Where these people met each other
        is yet unknown' (excerpt from the 24 Saati). If the author of the
        article had shown a little interest, he could have easily found that
        by 1999 Avlagirov and Ainurkaev had been living in Tbilisi as
        military operations were going on in their homeland. As for Tarik
        Mohamed, US citizen, he was sent to Georgia by the ICNA, Canadian
        citizen Nafiz Mokamed - by Benevolence. Avlagirov and Ainiurkaev
        claim that they met these men in 1999 in Tbilisi and followed their
        advice by establishing a humanitarian organization called MADLI.
        >
        > Temur Ainiurkaev also explained how a Georgian citizen was included
        among the founders: \"As we did not hold Georgian citizenship we were
        not eligible to legally establish an organization. That\'s why we
        contacted a friend of mine, Archil Khatiashvili, who just provided us
        with legal ground for founding the organization. However, he was
        never involved and is not currently involved in any activities
        carried out by our organization.\"
        >
        > We contacted Mr. Khatiashvili who confirmed that he denied giving
        comments to the 24 Saati reporter for one simple reason: he had
        nothing in common with the MADLI activities except for his close
        friends Avlagirov and Ainurkaev-managers of the organization.
        >
        > Let\'s get back to Avlagirov\'s elucidation: \"ICNA funded a
        medical out-patient clinic in the village of Duisi. 6 physicians were
        employed by the clinic providing medical services not only to the
        refugees, but also to the local population. Besides, diagnosed
        patients were also given medicines. The project also envisaged
        hospitalization of hard-up patients in the Tbilisi clinics. Within
        this program the MADLI covered medical expenses for Georgian citizens
        too.
        >
        > How the rights of human rights defender were violated.
        >
        > The article published in the 24 Saati gives comments of Aslanbek
        Abdurzakov, head of the Human Rights Committee of Chechnya, which
        reads: \"I have met Avlagirov several times. I did express my
        gratitude to him for arranging the medical care in Duisi, but now
        refugees are not admitted to the hospital.\"
        >
        > We contacted Mr. Abdurzakov, who was outraged for distorting his
        comments. \"Search for Al-Qaeda in the Pankisi gorge is an utter
        nonsense to put it very simply. The journalist, who was interested
        whether refugees residing in Pankisi had received military uniforms
        through humanitarian cargo, contacted me some time ago. I replied
        that I had never heard anything like that. Then he asked about
        medical care in Pankisi to which I clearly answered that there is an
        out-patient with 5 doctors financed by the Georgian Ministry of
        Health. There is also a dentists\' office financed by the MADLI,
        providing free service to all patients. Then he touched the MADLI and
        some $600,000 transferred to them for assisting refugees. I said that
        I did not know anything about that as it was beyond my competence and
        I was not acquainted with the details. The only thing I know is that
        they are doing a lot of good things for the people. The sum specified
        in the article--namely assistance from $35 up to $75 provided to
        orphans does not reflect the truth. The article also gives a list of
        food products distributed among the refugees, despite my clear
        explanations that these products are delivered by the Red Cross
        organization. The MADLI distributes the products only twice a year,
        during the Muslim festivals.
        >
        > Mojaheddins or orphans?
        >
        > With the help of the Madli, various humanitarian organizations give
        orphans financial aid with the maximum limit of $31.5.
        >
        > Marat Avlagirov: \"Initially Benevolence allocated assistance for
        75 children which amounted $31.5 per month for each of them. Later,
        the association added 17 children to the list. Besides, a German
        organization provided 30 Australian dollars monthly, English
        organization - $26.6. I have no idea where the journalist found those
        huge sums. From the day of our establishment until today the
        Benevolence has transferred $110,000. How they came up with $600,000
        I don\'t know. We have never received cash. All of the mentioned
        organizations have made only bank transfers and anyone interested can
        track the transfer and disbursement accounts in the TBC Bank. In
        fact, many law-enforcement structures have many times checked the
        bank documentation, which are absolutely transparent.
        >
        > Arnaut in Georgia
        > \"Was Mr. Arnaut, the Benevolence Director in Tbilisi?\" asks the
        24 Saati journalist. The MADLI director confirms that he was in
        Tbilisi and Pankisi too. \"He came to Georgia under his true name. We
        asked him to finance the hospital in Pankisi but unfortunately the
        project failed. I do not know what activities this man leads, but
        what I know is that his organization transferred certain sum to our
        account. I can also confirm that not a single organization has ever
        made financial operations through the help of MADLI. I am stressing
        that we are assisting only vulnerable refugees and not boyeviks or
        mojaheddins as the article tries to picture. And if we were silently
        doing the good and kind things we\'ve done, it was because we believe
        that such things do not need any advertising. It is our policy and
        principle. Chechen refugees and the Duisi Gamgebeli (local self
        governor) told us that frequently a majority of the population did
        not even know that Madli stood behind the provided assistance."
        >
        > In the Madli documentation we came across the facts verifying that
        this organization has many times helped IDPs from Abkhazia.
        >
        > \"In May 2002 Arnaut was arrested. Shortly newspapers published
        lists of organizations, which were financed by the Benevolence. Of
        course, the MADLI was included. Competent authorities carefully
        checked and inspected our documentation and found that only $110,000
        was transferred to our account by the mentioned organization. Mr.
        Aldagirov did not mention but we have nevertheless found that the
        MADLI documentation and activities were studied by the FBI visiting
        Tbilisi specifically for that purpose. However, neither they nor the
        Georgian security services found anything suspicious.
        >
        > Benevolence or malevolence?
        >
        > Our investigation showed that in 2000 the MADLI opened a
        traditional Islamic school in Pankisi. The project was financed by
        the British humanitarian organization. Jarap Khangoshvili, the Duisi
        Gamgebeli, confirmed that the opening of the school was agreed with
        them and the village elders. As the Gamgebeli told us, MADLI is
        almost the only organization bringing to the refugees and local Kists
        some relief. The same organization has funded the boxing school in
        Duisi.
        > \"I have no idea who Naim Uddin and Amjet Tophik are and why the 24
        Saati journalist needed to claim that I had connections with these
        persons. Your colleague also alleges that Uddin gave me $5,000 to
        help the refugees. I am reiterating that I have never received any
        cash."
        >
        > It is totally unclear on what grounds the journalist claims that
        the MADLI accounts served the needs of Mojaheddins and boyeviks.
        There are a lot of evidences and witnesses of where and on what the
        sums were spent. In case there was a will of the journalist, he could
        have easily found the evidence and people.
        >
        >
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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