Terrorist attack in France and the Chechen diaspora in Europe

The recent terrorist attack occurred in France highlights the problem of security and the impact of jihadist propaganda in the Russian language inside the European Union. In fact, Islamic State ideologies and the presence of North Caucasian diaspora in Europe might threaten EU security. 

For the second time in three weeks, terrorism has threatened France when a suspect beheaded a history teacher in Conflans Sainte-Honorine, a Paris suburb.  According to local sources and preliminary investigations, an 18-year-old Chechen, born in Moscow, beheaded a professor of history and geography, guilty of showing the cartoons of Muhammad in class. After the homicide, the suspect escaped until the French police located and killed him in Eragny because he was brandishing a knife and threatening the police officers.  The area was isolated for fear of the presence of an explosive vest.

The anti-terrorism prosecutor has opened an investigation for “murder in connection with a terrorist act” and “criminal terrorist association”. Media have reported that the suspect screamed ‘Allah Akbar’ during the homicide of the French teacher and, before being shot by the police, he had time to post pictures of his action on Twitter.

Why this matters? Because since the collapse of the Soviet Union and especially during the Chechen Wars the European Union has been interested by a significative North Caucasian diaspora. Undeniably, Chechens are the majority of the North Caucasian migrants in Europe who escaped from their homeland as asylum seekers and refugees. For instance, in 2008 the Jamestown Foundation reported that around 70 thousand Chechens live in Europe.

Even though most of the Chechens who are living in Europe have demonstrated to be well-integrated inside the European society, we cannot underestimate that the jihadist propaganda promoted by the Islamic State or the North Caucasian militants groups via the Internet and social networks can affect the European Chechen community. In fact, in recent years, European security forces have arrested different Chechens accused of connection with terrorist groups as the Islamic State.