France: Five Chechens Arrested in Connection with Schoolteacher Beheading

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French investigators have taken five Chechen-background men into custody as the five are believed to have been in contact with teacher Samuel Paty’s killer Abdoullakh Anzorov.

The five males, aged 18 to 21, come from the Seine-Maritime and Haute-Loire departments and all are said to have been in contact with the Chechen terrorist who beheaded Paty in October after he showed images of the Islamic prophet during a class on freedom of expression.

Investigators say they are looking into whether or not any of the youths had in-person contact with Anzorov and note that all of the men were part of the “jihadist sphere” along with the terrorist, who was shot dead by police a short time after murdering the 47-year-old teacher, Le Parisien reports.

Following the beheading of Paty, it was revealed that Anzorov had been in contact with at least one actual jihadist in Syria prior to the attack as well, communicating with him through the social media app Instagram.

Investigators say that the jihadist was likely located in the Idlib province of Syria, a known stronghold for jihadists with links to terrorist organisations such as al-Qaeda.

The two had conversations about jihad and Islamic theology for several days in September and Anzorov is said to have sent a direct message to the jihadist immediately after the killing of Paty, sending him a picture of the teacher’s decapitated head.

A father of one of the students at the school, Brahim Chnina, organised a social media campaign against Paty and was also said to have been in contact with Anzorov through the messaging app WhatsApp. Chnina was arrested following the attack.

Last weekend, Anzorov was buried in his native Chechnya in the village of Shalazhi, where he was celebrated by locals.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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