War profiteer profile: Alsetex

en
es
Two police officers in the foreground, one armed with a large tear gas launcher
French police armed with a Alsetex Cougar tear gas launcher. Image: Pierre-Selim via Flickr CC2.0

Alsetex is a French company, owned by the Etienne Lacroix Group including various types of non-lethal munitions and crowd control equipment. Products manufactured by Alsetex include tear gas grenades, stun grenades, riot control agents, and a range of related launchers.

According to the Registre du Commerce et des Sociétés, the company was first registered in 1973, in 2022 Alsetex had a turnover of €34m, and in 2021 had a staff of 182 people. The company does not maintain a very visible online presence, but does market their products at a number of arms fairs around the world. For example, they have been registered to attend: Milipol Paris (France), IDEX 2023 (UAE), Eurosatory (France), Milipol Qatar, World Defence Show 2022 (Saudi Arabia), and Defence Services Asia (Malaysia).

Equipment and weapons manufactured by Alsetex have been observed being used by police and security forces in a number of locations around the world, including those with significant human rights concerns, and targeting nonviolent protesters. For example, there is evidence of Alsetex weapons being used in: Senegal, Burundi, Lebanon, France, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bahrain, Benin, Madagascar, Ghana, and Liberia.

The company’s Cougar launchers have also been photographed in 2014 being used in a training session by American soldiers who are part of the SPMAGTF Crisis Response – Africa.

Launchers

Senegal

Among a number of other African countries, Alsetex’s Cougar launcher has been identified being used by security forces in Senegal on a number of occasions, as recently as February 2024.

In May 2023, the French journalist Maxime Sirvins tweeted a number of images showing members of the Senegalese police holding Cougar launchers, as well as dozens of spent GM2L tear gas canisters manufactured by Alsetex in 2021.

More recently, footage shared by Al Jazeera clearly shows riot police firing canisters from a Cougar launcher at a group protesting the delay in an election in February 2024. The footage can be seen here at 0:19 seconds.

Lebanon

Cougar launchers and tear gas grenades manufactured by Alsetex have also been identified being used by Lebanese security forces against people taking part in the “You Stink” movement in 2015.

Vehicle-mounted

Cougar launchers can also be mounted on vehicles, such as the Berliet VXB-170 armoured vehicle. The VXB has been used in France against the Gilets Jaunes.

Grenades

France

It is perhaps unsurprising that Alsetex’s products have been widely used by the French police. There is significant evidence of the company’s equipment being widely used against social movements like the Gilets Jaunes.

The GLI-F4 grenade contains 10g of CS gas and 26g of TNT high explosive, and have been classified as weapons of war in the French Internal Security Code. Despite this, they have been used extensively against civilians in France, with a reported three thousand such grenades – including some expired stock – being used against the Notre-Dames-des-Landes ZAD in April 2018.

There are a number of documented cases of GLI-F4 grenades causing life-changing injuries, including the loss of hands and limbs. The sound created by a GLI-F4 grenade exploding is around 165db, enough to cause hearing damage to those in close proximity.

In France, the GLI-F4 has been replaced with the GM2L grenade – also manufactured by Alsetex - which doesn’t contain TNT. However, critics described this as a “fake gesture”.

And there are significant concerns about the impact of its use from groups like Physicians for Human Rights. The GM2L is still an explosive grenade with 10g of CS powder, and produces 160db at 10m.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Amnesty International has also reported in 2012 that 900 GM2L grenades were exported to the Democratic Republic of Congo, alongside other equipment manufactured by Alsetex (72 56mm Cougar Multi-light grenade launchers, 80 FAR smoke grenades, 720 GENL stinger grenades, 800 BDBE 40mm low velocity kinetic defence rounds).

Programmes & Projects
Countries
Police militarisation theme
Companies

Add new comment

CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.