The Moroccan law does not punish wives and children of Moroccan ISIS fighters not associated directly with terror crimes according to the head of Morocco’s BCIJ.
Rabat – Italian security services have expelled Salma Bencharki, the wife of Abderrahim Moutaharrik, a Moroccan ISIS fighter, for security reasons.
Moutaharrik is a Moroccan kickboxer who received a six-year prison sentence in 2016 for terror charges. He is known as the “ISIS Boxer.” Italian authorities arrested the Moroccan fighter and his wife after an investigation showed they were planning to take their family from Italy to Syria. Moutaharrik and Bencharki have two children, aged 5 and 7.
Moutaharrik was also planning a terror attack against the Vatican.
Bencharki finished serving her sentence of three years and four months and was deported to Morocco. Matteo Salvini, interior minister of Italy, signed the deportation order to expel Bencharki.
Authorities stripped Moutaharrik of his Italian citizenship.
It is not the first time foreign governments have repatriated those convicted of terrorismor their wives to Morocco.
In 2018, Belgium announced its decision to extradite a Moroccan Al Qaeda member known as the “most dangerous woman” in Belgium or the “black widow.” Malika El Aroud is the widow of a Taliban jihadist Abdessatar Dhamane.
Belgium stripped the “black widow” of her citizenship and sentenced her to eight years in prison for her affiliation with Al Qaeda.
Morocco’s counter-terrorism law gives sentences ranging from 10 to 15 years in prison to ISIS returnees.
Morocco, however, does not take legal proceedings against the wives and children of repatriated fighters. According to the head of Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ) Abdelhak El Khiame, women did not intend to leave Morocco to join jihadi movements. They only accompanied their husbands.
The wives of ISIS fighters and their children are also subject to special measures in line with the “moussalaha” or the reconciliation program, aiming to integrate returning fighters into society.
In 2018, Khiame shared statistics about the number of Moroccans estimated to have joined ISIS in conflict zones, such as Syria, Libya, and Iraq. Khiame said that 1,668 are believed to have joined the terror networks. That figure also includes the 200 or so who have already returned to Morocco.
Khiame stated in October 2018 that since the creation of the BCIJ in 2015, Morocco had dismantled 57 terrorist cells. It arrested 3,129 people, 292 of whom had a criminal record, and foiled 361 terrorist actions.
Morocco also carried out several crackdowns on terror cells this year.