Migrants from the Russian region of Chechnya have increased dramatically in June and German security services worry that Islamists may be among them.
The number of Chechen asylum seekers entering Germany is on the rise and according to officials in Hamburg their city has seen a particular spike in new arrivals. Over the month of June the increase has been substantial as many Chechens economic migrants move away from the Russian economy which continues to face hardship due to a failing currency and economic sanctions.
German security services worry that the wave of migrants from the heavily Islamic region bring with them sympathisers and fighters tied to radical Islamic groups, reports Die Welt.
Last year in Hamburg 377 Russian nationals registered in the city as asylum seekers. Already in the first six months of this year 280 Russians, mainly Chechens, have sought asylum in the city. The number of Chechens seeking asylum, 83 total, are only second to Afghani nationals and are well above the number of Syrians who numbered only 43 in June.
According to the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) around 82 per cent of all the Russian nationals are from the Chechen region. A spokeswoman for the agency revealed that BAMF were unsure as to why there was a sudden increase of migrants from the area telling media: “Concrete reasons for the increase are not available.”
German security services have said that they worry about the increase in migrants from the region which is ruled by ex-rebel Ramzan Kadyrov. Kadyrov is known to rule the area harshly and allegations exist of torture and the burning of houses of opponents to his regime. Among the disenfranchised groups who oppose Kadyrov are radical Islamists and Salafists, some who have gone to Syrian and Iraq to fight for Islamic State.
Kadyrov himself is a fierce opponent of Islamic State and has given support to Russian president Vladimir Putin’s war on the group. The Chechen leader has even bragged about using his own fighters to infiltrate the terror group claiming: “An extensive spy network has been set up inside Islamic State.”
Along with potential Salafists and Islamic State sympathisers, many in the German security service are fearful of the reputation of Chechen criminal gangs who have shown time and again their willingness to use violence against other ethnic groups. In Germany earlier this year a group of Chechens ambushed Yazidi migrants who had fled from Islamic State. The Chechens brought knives and left several Yazidis hospitalised in the conflict which is alleged to have been sparked by religious tensions.