Is there “a problem with the Chechen community” in terms of radicalization, as Jean-Luc Mélenchon asserts?

The leader of La France insoumise made controversial remarks after the conflict in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. If Islamist radicalization within the Chechen diaspora does appear in the radar of intelligence services, it is not over-represented.

“Faced with Islamist terrorism, we must respond very precisely. There is clearly a problem with the Chechen community in France. Chechens who have political Islamist activity on social networks must be found and expelled.” This statement by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Sunday, October 18, on LCI, ignited the powder. The leader of La France insoumise then commented on the attack in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine (Yvelines), committed two days earlier by Abdouallakh Anzorov. This 18-year-old of Chechen origin beheaded Samuel Paty, a teacher who had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to his students, before being killed by the police.

If his entourage tries to minimize his comments since, even claiming that the member of Bouches-du-Rhône regrets them, they scandalized the association The Chechens of Europe, which calls for a complaint against Jean-Luc Mélenchon. However, is this diaspora monitored by the French intelligence services? At present, the investigation has not yet established the conditions under which this young man from Evreux, unknown to the intelligence services, has become radicalized. Nor if this radicalization and this passage to action are part of a context, a movement, even a network linked to its origins.

The Twitter account on which he claimed responsibility for the assassination, photo in support, was called @ Tchetchene_270. According to Mediapart, Abdouallakh Anzorov had shown his anchoring in religion and “probably in jihad” for several months and several Pharos reports had been made. On the side of his family, his relatives in custody – including his parents, his grandfather and one of his brothers – assess his radicalization at a period that varies from six months to a year, according to The world. Abdouallakh Anzorov, described as a boy solitary, discreet and amateur of combat sports, was born in Moscow in 2002 and arrived in France at the age of 6. He obtained refugee status through his parents in 2011 and had just obtained, when he came of age, a ten-year residence permit.

“The important thing is not where he was born, but where, when and how he was converted to a terrorist ideology that Russia condemns, of course, in all its forms”, argued Sergei Parinov, a spokesperson for the Russian representation in Paris, to the Tass agency. “His trajectory is in France and online, on the web”, warns Aude Merlin, professor of political science at the Free University of Brussels and specialist in Russia and the Caucasus.

The gaze of the Chechens of France towards Chechnya is fueled by several factors: it is the homeland, as a country of origin, which they also observe as the home of their language, and whose political regime they try to analyze. . “

It is difficult to establish clear links between what is happening in Chechnya, what their parents or grandparents went through, and a religious identification.Aude Merlinto franceinfo

This small republic with a Muslim majority has had a bloody history, punctuated by two wars of independence in the 1990s and 2000s and an Islamization of the resistance which led, in 2007, to the creation of a Caucasian emirate. Although affiliated with Al-Qaeda, its warlords joined the Islamic State group in 2014. An allegiance that may have had an economic dimension. “The fighters had an income, while in the North Caucasus the unemployment rate was exorbitant and the corruption unheard of”, Aude Merlin analysis.

Are the Islamist attacks committed by Chechens in other countries, including France, necessarily linked to this story? The question has already arisen when Khamzat Azimov, a 20-year-old French citizen, born in Chechnya, killed a passer-by and injured several others on May 12, 2018 in the Opera district in Paris. Without a criminal record, this young man from Strasbourg, shot dead by the police, was registered S and registered in the alert file for the prevention of terrorist radicalization (FSPRT) since 2016. It is necessary “be wary of any unicausal, mechanistic, linear explanation which would link the events in Chechnya to the act committed”, warned Anne Le Huérou, also a specialist in the Caucasus, on France Culture.

There are tens of thousands of Chechens in France today and we cannot say that there is Chechen terrorism in France and in Europe.Anne Le Huérouon France Culture

There is no official figure on the number of Chechens present in France, Chechnya not being recognized as a sovereign country. According to the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (Ofpra), the North Caucasus represents 60% of Russian asylum applications, requests mainly from Chechens and Dagestani. At the end of 2019, there were around 16,000 Russian nationals who had taken refuge in France. But estimates specialists oscillate between 30,000 and 65,000 Chechens residing in France, if we add those who have no papers and those who have obtained the nationality of another European country (according to the so-called Dubin procedure) but who live in France.

Among the 8,000 files still active within the FSPRT, are “a certain number” people of Chechen origin, “no more than the average person”, indicated on franceinfo Laurent Nuñez, now national coordinator of intelligence and the fight against terrorism. According to the Terrorism Analysis Center, 300 Chechen individuals are listed in the FSPRT, or around 3%. Their proportion was greater in the contingent of jihadists who left France to join Syria: they were “7 to 8%”, according to figures communicated in 2016 by Patrick Calvar, then director of the DGSI, before the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defense and Armed Forces Committee.

“In 2015-2016 I had information that a number of categories were radicalizing more than others within the nation. Among these categories were the Chechens.”, assured on France Inter the former Minister of the Interior Bernard Cazeneuve. FiAre they among the 231 foreigners registered with the FSPRT that the French authorities wish to expel? Asked by franceinfo, the Interior Ministry replied that these data were not public.

In June, the spotlight was on the Chechen diaspora in France during a series of clashes in Dijon. Ahe note from the criminal intelligence service of the judicial police, which France Televisions was able to consult, then drew up an assessment of the “Chechen organized crime” and his “mutations”. We can read that “Although the links between terrorism and Chechen crime remain opaque, it appears that some members of this crime are known for their membership of the Chechen independence movement or for their religious fundamentalism”. Police officers identify two types of profiles:

Individuals born in the 1980s belonging to the independence movement and young adults, radicalized and close to jihadist theses.The criminal intelligence service of the judicial policein a note

They note that “the vast majority of French departments record the presence of Chechens holding an S file for reasons of radicalization”.

Aude Merlin evokes this “generational divide within families, with an old secularized, sovietized generation, which does not consider that Islam should be the means of a society, and the young generation, which, not finding its place, is attracted by absolute sirens of this speech ” radical Islamist. A divide that is not specific to the Chechen diaspora, however. “This problem of radicalization, it can affect everyone in France, abounds with franceinfo Chamil Albakov, president of the Association Chechens of Europe. No one is immune, with individuals drifting around and finding crazy arguments to kill people, to do terrible things. “

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