Rabat - Head of Morocco’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau (BCIJ) Abdelhak Khiame has underscored the enormous challenges posed by returning Moroccan terrorist fighters.
Rabat – Head of Morocco’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau (BCIJ) Abdelhak Khiame has underscored the enormous challenges posed by returning Moroccan terrorist fighters.
In an interview with French news agency AFP, Khiame says that 200 Moroccan ISIS fighters have been arrested and brought to justice since returning to Morocco.
Khiame told the news source that Morocco’s provisions regarding returning fighters was established in 2015 and allows police to apprehend them for investigation and put them in custody.
Returnees typically receive sentences ranging from 10 to 15 years in prison.
Khiame said that the number of Moroccans in the ranks of jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria was estimated at more than 1,600 in 2015.
“Some have committed bombing suicide or were shot by coalition forces and others have fled to other countries.”
Moroccan fighters in foreign countries are “regularly involved in attacks in Europe,” including in France, Brussels, Belgium, Spain, said the BCIJ head.
With the widespread of extremism and Islamophobia across the world, several countries continue to link terrorism to Islam and specific nationalities. Contesting the misleading concept, Khiame asserts that terrorism has no nationality.
The Moroccan official added that Morocco has effectively implemented its legislation against terrorist groups, especially following the Casablanca and Marrakech terrorist attacks in 2003 and 2011, respectively.
Recalling his staff’s achievements, Khiame said that Morocco frequently announces the dismantling of “terrorist cells.” He added that the country also recently released data on the terrorist groups dismantled from 2015 to 2017.
During the interview, Khiame also discussed the role of international cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
“Thanks to our services, attacks have been foiled in France, Belgium, Germany, England, Denmark, Italy, and Spain.”
Khiame stressed that the alarming security situation in the Sahel remains one of the Moroccan government’s main concerns, as it has become a “fertile ground” for terrorism and a safe zone for certain terror cells, including AQIM and ISIS, that face security crackdowns from law enforcement in Middle Eastern conflict areas.