French police have arrested four people aged 16 to 18, at least three of whom are believed to be of Chechen heritage, on charges of plotting a terrorist attack.
The arrests took place in Strasbourg and its suburb of Schiltigheim on Wednesday morning after an investigation by France’s domestic intelligence agency, the Directorate General of Internal Security (DGSI), as part of an investigation by the National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office (PNAT).
According to a report from the French broadcaster France Info, the teens are suspected of plotting a terrorist act, but the details of the threat have not been disclosed. Investigators seized digital material during the arrest, a judicial source told the media.
France Bleu reported that the suspects are aged 16 to 18 years old and that at least three of the four — aged 16, 17, and 18 — originate from Chechnya, an autonomous Muslim-majority state in the Russian Federation.
Since the murder of teacher Samuel Paty in October by Chechen refugee Abdoullakh Anzorov, French authorities have focused on radicalism among the Chechen community in the country, including fast-tracking deportations of Muslim extremists.
France Info noted that three people, two from Russia and one from Georgia, some believed to be Chechens, had been jailed for “criminal terrorist association” and “terrorist financing”.
Police have arrested two Chechens at the Strasbourg Christmas market for making signs of allegiance to ISIS. https://t.co/YWzQ6wUQil
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) November 30, 2019
Before the beheading of Mr Paty, who was targeted after showing cartoons of the prophet Mohammed to his class during a lesson on freedom of expression, France has seen several cases of young Chechens involved with radical Islamic extremism.
In September 2018, a Chechen migrant attending a college in Montauban was arrested after pledging on social media to join the Islamic State. Another Chechen was arrested the same week in Béziers for conspiracy to join a terrorist organisation.
In November 2019, police in Strasbourg arrested two Chechens at a Christmas market after they allegedly made signs of allegiance to the Islamic State, a year after radical Islamic terrorist Chérif Chekatt had gone on a rampage at a Christmas market in the city, killing five people.
Chechen radicalism is not just a problem in France. In Germany, Chechen “morality police” have been reported as enforcing sharia compliance in cities such as Berlin, primarily against women from the Chechen community.
The same phenomenon has been seen among Chechens in Austria, with four members of a “morality gang” arrested earlier this year after allegedly threatening to behead another man’s children if he did not pay them €5,000.
Chechen Minor Arrested in France After Pledging Loyalty to Islamic State https://t.co/C2OsJ7AdLk
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 13, 2018