Al-Shishani is reported to have joined a Georgian Spetznatz (special forces) unit in the KUD, or central intelligence service, in 2006. The unit received U.S. training as part of military support for Georgia. He caught tuberculosis and lost his job in the intelligence unit, before going to prison for weapons possession in 2010. His father:
They trained all of the Georgian army back then… My boy was just 19 when he went to the army… This KUDI, where he was working, it was an intelligence and reconnaissance unit.
However, his father says al-Shishani (also known as Tarkhan) is a victim of his older brother, who is the real mastermind of ISIS:
Tarkhan is 27, not more—a child! Tamaz is his teacher. Tamaz ruined everything I had. Tamaz is everything, the main actor; Tarkhan is nothing.