A project with Maximilian Mann
The Pankisi Valley is usually a quiet place in northern Georgia. Between the mountains of the Caucasus and the Alazani river nine villages form the community of Pankisi. But the calm facade of the beautiful landscape would not make anyone think that the small region near the Chechen border was internationally known as “The Valley of Terror”. During the Chechen crisis in the 90´s, the Valley was used by smugglers and militants. The American government even speculated Al-Qaida forces in the surrounding mountains and in 2016 about 50 young men from the local villages joined ISIS in Syria. Today only a few tourists make their way to the Pankisi Valley. About 8000 people live in the local villages. Most of them are Kists – a very hospitable Muslim minority which originally fled from Chechnya around 200 years ago.
Despite their challenging past, most villagers fight the regions bad reputation and dissociate themselves from radical believes.