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Counterterrorism: US Report Spotlights Morocco’s Vigilant Security Approach

Published on Monday, the report recalled that the US and Morocco have a long “history of strong” counterterrorism cooperation, stressing the “vigilant” security approach adopted by the North African country to tackle terror threats. 

“The Government of Morocco continued its comprehensive strategy that includes vigilant security measures, regional and international cooperation, and counter radicalization policies,” the report emphasized.

The US State Department recalled that the country, like many others across the world, continues to face security threats from terrorist cells that claim to be inspired by or affiliated with ISIS.

In 2021, Morocco’s security services arrested at least 55 individuals linked for their alleged involvement in terrorism cells and dismantled cells in “the early stages of planning attacks,” the report said.

The cells dismantled by Moroccan security services were planning attacks against several public buildings, prominent figures, and security service buildings.

The report, however, acknowledged that the number of terrorism-related arrests was lower compared to years before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The North African country has been intensifying its efforts to tackle terrorism threats while continuing to help many of its international partners by sharing essential data and intelligence that assisted many of them to arrest terror suspects.

Acknowledging Morocco’s support for other countries’ intelligence, the US State Department report stressed that Morocco’s security services have “leveraged intelligence collection” as well as collaboration with international partners to carry out counterterrorism operations.

Morocco has several security departments The Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ), which the country introduced in 2015, is the primary agency that is in charge of counterterrorism prosecutions.

Recent data from the BCIJ emphasized that Morocco has dismantled over 2,009 terrorist cells since 2002 and arrested more than 3,353 people for their alleged involvement in terrorist activities.

During the same period, Morocco also aborted over 500 “bloody” terrorist plots.”

Stressing the importance of joint cooperation between Rabat and Washington DC, the State Department emphasized that Moroccan security agencies took part in various US-sponsored programs to improve Morocco’s technical and investigative capabilities to tackle different issues, including forensics, cybersecurity, as well as financial investigation.

The report also noted cooperation between all of Morocco’s security units, including the General Directorates of National Security and Territorial Surveillance (DGSN-DGST) to tackle security threats, including at airports.

“Law enforcement officials and private airline carriers worked regularly with the United States to detect and deter individuals attempting to transit illegally and to address watchlisted travelers,” the report added.  

The US and Morocco frequently reaffirm their commitment to continue boosting cooperation to tackle security threats.

The same commitment was renewed last week on February 21, when Head of DGSN-DGST Abdellatif Hammouchi met with Director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Christoper Wray.

During the meeting, the two officials discussed counterterrorism cooperation and measures, including means to surveil and counter tracks in ports of entry. The two security institutions are also determined to exchange information between both countries on terrorist threats.

“This new visit signifies the advanced levels that have been reached in bilateral cooperation between Moroccan security authorities and law enforcement agencies in the US,” a communique from the DGSN noted.

Anti-radicalization, extremism initiatives

In addition, the US Department also listed a series of initiatives that Morocco has launched to tackle radicalism and extremism among others.

“The Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs has developed an educational curriculum for Morocco’s nearly 50,000 imams as well as for female Islamic guides (mourchidates),” the report said.

Under the strategy, Morocco also receives and trains dozens of imams mostly from West Africa.

Among the projects was the reconciliation (Moussalaha) program, a deradicalization initiative that helps terror convicts to reintegrate into society after serving their prison sentences.

Director of social and cultural work for prisoners Moulay Idris Aklamam said last week that the reconciliation program is a “role model” for many countries in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Source: Morocco World News

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Ikrimah Zafrani

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