Rabat - Disguising themselves as “stranded migrants,” Moroccan nationals who fought for ISIS in Libya and are now pleading to be repatriated by their home country after the jihadist group was defeated. This represents a threat to the stability of the country, warns the American think tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Rabat – Disguising themselves as “stranded migrants,” Moroccan nationals who fought for ISIS in Libya and are now pleading to be repatriated by their home country after the jihadist group was defeated. This represents a threat to the stability of the country, warns the American think tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
In a report entitled “The Others: Foreign Fighters in Libya,” the think tank notes that, to date, Libya stands as the fourth-largest foreign fighter mobilization in global jihadist history.
Based on open sources and governmental figures, between 625 and 1500 Tunisians fought with ISIS in Libya, followed by between 58 and 300 Moroccans and 130 Algerians.
Approximately 1,000 women from Tunisia, Chad, Australia, Belgium, Egypt, Eritrea, France, Kenya, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria have also fought among the ranks of the terrorist group.
Moroccan nationals represent the second largest influx of foreign fighters to Libya, the return of these ideologically brainwashed individuals to their home country signals a cause for alarm, the study concludes.
“Returning foreign fighters could bolster already simmering insurgencies, while building up recruitment and homegrown networks in countries without much history of jihadist activism.”
Recent warnings by officials in both Morocco and Nigeria show that the Islamic State is still looking for ways to exploit various regional weaknesses. The authors of the report worry that the terrorist group is exploiting migrants stuck in Libya who are in the process of being repatriated to their home countries.
Morocco’s security services, in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, postponed the return of Moroccan nationals in order to identify these individuals and whether they should be deemed a threat.
According to Moroccan counter-terrorism law, returning fighters will be arrested, unless they use forged documents allowing them to re-enter unnoticed.
Abdellah Rami, a specialist on Islamist groups, previously told Morocco World News that these fighters can present a number of threats to Moroccan security, reaffirming the report’s findings.
“Some elements can represent a danger if they are not tracked and can manage to get forged documents, blend in with Moroccan in Europe, and enter the country,” he said.
Rami explained that these lone wolves might seek to carry out attacks on Moroccan soil.
Another “troubling” possibility, according to Rami, is that some of those Moroccans might be recruited by regimes which are not on good terms with the kingdom and used in a way that serves lobbyist interest.
ISIS fighters might also look to establish terrorist networks in Morocco, although this scenario is highly improbable, Rami explained. Regional and international security services, including Morocco’s domestic teams, are on high alert for ISIS’ retreat in the Middle East and are ready for the possibility of the return of the group’s foreign fighters to their native countries.
However, while many Salafi Jihadist groups support Al Qaeda in Morocco, ISIS does not enjoy the same advantage. This situation, coupled with the fact that its elements are under tight security surveillance, makes it difficult for them to grow.