By Mohamed Saadouni
Casablanca, May 18, 2013
Members of two Nador-based terror cells appeared in a Morocco court for arraignment on Tuesday (May 14th).
The eight admitted “Al Mouahidoun” and “Attawhid” cell members had been “indoctrinated with takfirist ideology” and had “forged links with like-minded people abroad, in Melilla and in Belgium”, the interior ministry said after their May 5th arrests.
The cells were also believed to have been in contact with jihadists in Mali.
“Their plan was to strengthen their ranks by attracting as many followers possible, with the aspiration to declare jihad inside Morocco,” the ministry said.
Two of the eight suspects had earlier served time on terrorism charges.
“During interrogation, the suspects disclosed their plan to set up a camp in a rural area outside the city of Nador in order to use it as a rear base to launch jihadist operations in the kingdom. They also planned to rob banks in order to finance their crimes,” the ministry said.
The “Al Mouahidoun” and “Attawhid” cell members in Zghenghen, Beni Boughafer, Selouane, Farkhana and Beni Chiguer had already carried out robberies.
The cells were also seeking to set up a school in Farkhana to proselytise radical ideas among children, the ministry said.
This is not the first time for Nador to be at the epicentre of a major counter-terror operation.
Last winter, Nador residents were among 27 Morocco AQIM cell suspects arrested in a nationwide security sweep. The group allegedly sent more than 20 young people to join other Moroccan fighters in Mali.
“All of the terrorist cells that have been broken up were planning to take other people’s money and rob banks in order to ensure the flow of funds needed to execute their plans,” said Bouchaib Essoufi, an attorney with extensive experience in salafist jihadist trials.
“They regard society as heretic and its money as permitted to them, as long as it is to be spent on jihadist attacks,” Essoufi told Magharebia.
The dismantling of the Nador cells a fortnight ago is only the latest security operation in the kingdom, authorities were quick to note.
On Thursday, Moroccan authorities used the anniversary of the 2003 Casablanca suicide bombings to call attention to the many counter-terror successes over the last decade.
The DGSN succeeded in breaking up 113 terrorist cells and preventing 266 attacks on security facilities, tourism sites, foreign diplomatic missions, synagogues and churches, the interior ministry announced on May 16th.