The mosque in Duisi, Pankisi Gorge. (DF Watch.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–A man from Pankisi Gorge stabbed his sister in the chest with a knife for refusing to wear a hijab.

The brother, 35, inflicted 7 wounds on his 33 year old sister, a former police officer.

Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge is located in the northeast of the country. The majority here are Kists, a subgroup of Chechens adhering to the Sunni branch of Islam.

The wounded woman underwent emergency surgery at the local hospital. His brother was arrested and is under investigation for attempted murder.

Seyphullah al-Shishani as he was hit by a shell. (Warning: disturbing images.)

The stabbed woman worked for several years as a police officer at Duisi police station, but left in February to start working at the local school administration. According to some locals, the woman left the police under pressure from her brother.

Neither family members nor relatives are eager to comment on the issue openly in this small but extremely closed community. According to some account the perepetrator has mental problems.

Pankisi Gorge, the home of approximately 7,000 Kists, in the last two decades witnessed the spread of radical Islam – Wahhabism, or Salafism especially among the youth, which is gradually replacing traditional Islam.

This leads to conflict between old and new generations, since the former follow adat; a traditional, moderate Islam and code of conduct widespread among many ethnic groups in Caucasus.

This conflict has come to the surface in Duisi, the administrative center of the Pankisi valley, where moderate and radical Muslims attend different mosques.

During a visit to the valley in December, 2013, DFWatch was told by elderly people that 80-90 percent of the youth are following Wahhabism, which was their biggest worry.

In Duisi, there was also a prevalence of bearded young men, dressed in specific orthodox style. Although many people there have a more moderate lifestyle, the rise of radicalism is quite visible and the prominence of Pankisi men among top ranks of Middle Eastern terrorists is proof of this.

Some of the most infamous Islamist leaders among groups active in the Middle East came from Pankisi Gorge. One of them, Tarkhan Batirashvili, aka Abu Umar al-Shishani, is head of the military wing of the Islamic State in Syria, though also actively participating in hostilities in Iraq; another one is Murad (Muslim) Margoshvili, aka Muslim al-Shishani, commander of the Junud al-Sham group, affiliated with the al-Nursa front, an official branch of al-Qaeda in Syria, and designated as terrorists by the United States.

There are no exact figures on how many Kists from Pankisi are fighting in the Middle East. Accounts range from as little as ‘several dozens’ to ‘hundreds’.

According to Kakheti Information Center (, six men from Pankisi have died in the Syria war so far. One of them is another prominent field commander, Ruslan Machalikashvili, a.k.a. Seyphullah al-Shishani who was hit by a shell last February (see video).