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EU To Probe Possible North Caucasus Diaspora Link To Terrorism

EU Counterterrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove
EU Counterterrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove
BRUSSELS -- The European Union is to look more closely into a possible link between the North Caucasus diaspora living in EU member states and the recruitment of jihadist fighters and the financing of terrorist activities.

The move has been called for by member states with a sizeable number of immigrants and refugees from the North Caucasus following a string of recent terrorism-related arrests in the European Union.

Speaking to RFE/RL, the European Union's counterterrorism coordinator, Gilles De Kerchove, indicated that Poland wished to have a debate on the subject before the end of its six-month EU presidency in December.

"We have asked our situation center [EU intelligence body] to collect data and get a good assessment of the potential link between the diaspora and the terrorist development in the Northern Caucasus," he said.

De Kerchove declined to discuss any concrete links, noting that it was "too early to draw any conclusions" at the moment.

In November last year, police in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany arrested 10 people suspected of planning a terrorist attack in Belgium following an investigation that also looked at funding for a Chechen militant group.

In May, Czech police charged six people from Russia's North Caucasus with terror-related offences, saying they supported a militant group based in Daghestan.

Legislative power in areas concerning justice and home affairs largely rests with individual member states, but the EU can issue specific responses when it comes to border management, visa regimes, and cooperation with transit countries such as Turkey and Russia to combat terrorism.