Rabat – The leader of the ISIS-terror cell busted by Morocco’s Counter-terrorism Bureau (BCIJ) on Thursday, February 15, is suspected of having ties with the separatist Polisario Front.
Moroccan newspaper Assabah reported on Friday that the defendant has been involved in separatist activities in the Tindouf camps.
According to the newspaper, the Polisario-linked suspect was coordinating with separatist members of the front and members of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) to undermine Morocco’s security through terrorist plots.
Citing an unidentified source from the Central Office for Judicial Research, which is affiliated to the General Directorate for International Security, Assabah added that the BCIJ seized electronic devices and an identity card of the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), from the house of the leader of the suspected three-ISIS related cell.
The search operation also allowed the seizure of a military uniform and a flag of the separatist group, Polisario.
Preliminary investigations carried out by BCIJ showcase that the three defendants were plotting to commit terrorist operations in several Moroccan cities, touristic hubs, and security headquarters.
The suspects were operating in the cities of Laayoune, Sale, and Marrakech and have pledged allegiance to the ISIS caliphate.
When the BCIJ members accessed the devices seized from the houses of the suspects, they found out that the defendants were visiting websites affiliated to the ISIS groups. The suspects were also frequenting websites that provide tutorials on how to make homemade explosives and bombs.
The suspects told investigators that they learned how to make explosives and were planning to attack sensitive places in the country to kill as many people as possible.
In April 2017, BCIJ Head Abdelhak Khiam told the press that more than 100 members of the Polisario Front have joined ISIS.
“Terrorist organizations and criminal networks travel all along the Sahel region,” blaming Algeria for the lack of security cooperation that would help to end this issue.
Khiam echoed his remarks in an interview with the French-based newspaper Le Monde earlier this month.
“The problem is the absence of collaboration with the Algerians and the existence of an area controlled by a terrorist group,” he said, referring to the Polisario Front.
Khiam said that al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is still controlling southern Algeria and Mali, which is a threat to Morocco and the entire region.
According to the BCIJ head, “even if there are differences [between the two organizations], they defend the same ideology.”