Terrorism: Nigerian Community in France, Law Abiding, Says Envoy

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  • How 15000 French citizens linked with terrorism are monitored
  • Libyan branch of ISIS gaining root in Africa

Senator Iroegbu, back from Paris

The Nigerians living in France has been identified as some of the most law-abiding migrant community in the country and with no link with terrorists activities.

This is coming as the French government disclosed that about 15000 of her citizens, who are identified as being radicalised or having links with terrorists groups are placed under watch.

The Nigerian Embassy Officials gave this hint in Paris during a study tour on “The Fight Against Terrorism and Radicalisation” in France.

The Consular, Immigration and Education Minister at the Embassy, Mr. Alani Bello, said that most Nigerians are either students, working in Multi-National Companies (MNCs) or engaged in legitimate businesses.

Bello noted that even few ones that entered the country illegal are making serious efforts to regularise their stay in the country.

Apart from that he said that some influential Nigerians have business and other diplomatic ties that brings them to France.

“We have sizeable Nigerian communities in France. We have about 20,000 of our citizens here as students or those working in MNCs like Total as you know this is their Headquarters, Slumberger and so on.

“We also have some illegal migrants struggling to regularise their papers. We however, know that most Nigerians in France a very law abiding,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Secretary-General of the Interministerial Committee for the Prevention of Crime and Radicalisation, Mrs. Muriel Domenach, has disclosed about the rising cases of radicalisation in France and the decisive efforts of the government to bring it under control.

Domenach gave alarming statistics of about 15000 French citizens that are being monitored for various acts or links with radical and terrorist groups.

According to her, “there is massive radicalization in France with about 15,000 people are being followed or watched by intelligent agencies and the government.

“Out of the 15,000 people, 12,000 people are deemed to be important and signaled by different state apparatuses. The remaining 3000 however present serious cases that have to be looked into.”

She said that within these 12,000 people; 80 percent are over 18 years, while 20 percent are minors; and 70 percent are men, while 30percent are women.

She noted that about 36 percent of these Jihadists are converts, a large percent compared to Belgium with 8-10 percent converted to Jihadism.

She said: “We have about 7 percent, which is 763 people who have travelled abroad to Syria and Iraq to fight for Jihadists. About 200 people are dead (there is a high mortality of French citizens amongst the Islamic State at the theatre of operations in Syria and Iraq. Also to note is that 281 people among them that travelled to fight are women with high fertility rate and 400 of them are under 15.

“Most of them are being killed in Mosul (Iraq) war and we don’t know what will happen when it gets to Raqqa (ISIS headquarters in Syria). We also studying what will happen when some of these French citizens decides to return.”

Domenach decries the fact that integration, democracy and secularism, which is the hallmark of French system, policy and civilisation is today threatened by Jihadists groups championed by Daesh and other radical elements around the world.

According to her:”Inequality is part of the reason often cited as they see themselves discriminated against for being Muslim, black or geographic location and mostly victims of conflicts that happen far away from France.

“France is being targeted by the Jihadists because of our values and what we represent, which is freedom of expression, equality, fraternity and brotherhood even though we all come from different backgrounds.”

In the same vein, the Director of Publications and Editor-in-Chief of the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI), Dr. Marc Hecker, listed four key sources of radicalisation for French citizens including over 700 fighters in Syria and Iraq with about 400 children who were born to these terrorists and may likely return back to the country.

Hecker also noted that re-activation of terror networks, radical messages on home soil and oblique attacks by foriegn fighters in France as key factors fuelling terrorism in the country.

He however, noted that liberal French laws has made it possible for terrorists to get short sentences and regain freedom quickly enough to reactivate and mobilise to unleash more terror attacks.

The renowned researcher at the Centre for Security Studies also listed some of the French government response with declaration of war against terror in three key regions including Operation Chammal against ISIS in Middle East, Operation Barlchane in Sahel region of Africa that also targets Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria, and then Operation Sentinell against terrorist in French soil.

In addition, Hecker said that a new domestic intelligence agency was created and boosted with more funds and personnel; as well as a Counter-Narrative programme against radicalisation.

“More importantly, government and researchers have stopped using the term ‘Deradicalisation’ because it is impossible to depogramme someone who is radicalised, instead we use the concept of insertion or reintegration,” he said.

Also speaking, the Founder and Director of International Intelligence Cluster Structure-Terr(o)Risc, Mrs. Anne Giudicelli, called for regular update in the counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation measures.

Giudicelli also called for radical and revolutionary update of intelligence for effective tackling of ever-elusive terrorist figures.

“The criteria for dealing with terrorism has to be regularly updated and anticipated. The system need to be updated regularly even though the existing laws have not been exhausted as we don’t need new laws but effective implementations.

“We must also improve our intelligence capacity and upgrade for effective counter-terrorism measures. We need a revolution in the intelligence community as terrorism is much more complex than treating a mere security issues,”she said.

The terrorism expert also warned that the Libyan branch of ISIS are developing structures in Africa, adding that “there is a link between the Islamic state and increased migration from Syria and Africa using false identity”.

“There is a political problem in the way we address these issues as we must know that the Libyan branch of ISIS is developing deep structures in African,” she warned.