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Morocco Safer Than US, France Despite Dropping in 2019 Terror Index

Despite the low number of terror related deaths, Morocco dropped to 92nd place in this year’s world terror index.

Rabat – The 2018 murder of two Scandinavian tourists in Imlil in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains has impacted the country’s position on the 2019 Global Terror Index.

This year’s report listed Morocco as the 92nd least safe country out of 163 countries, with a score of 1.215.

In the 2018 index, Morocco ranked 132nd out of 163 countries.

The Imlil murder impacted Morocco’s position in the index notably, with the country dropping 40 places on the index. Despite the change, Morocco appears among the countries with a very low impact from terrorism.

“Morocco experienced one terrorist attack last year, its first since 2015. Two tourists were killed by Jihadi-inspired extremists who pledged allegiance to ISIL in a video. Previously ISIL had not been present in Morocco,” the report said.

The heinous attack on the two tourists led Morocco to increase efforts to strengthen its counter-terrorism approach. Morocco’s strategy is considered as one of the strongest in the world, with Morocco dismantling several terror cells each year.

In 2015, Morocco introduced the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ), a unit collaborating with other security services to thwart terror threats across Morocco.

Morocco also launched a policy that allowed law enforcement to apprehend ISIS fighters returning from conflict zones in Iraq and Syria for investigation and put them in custody.

Terror suspects and returnees typically receive sentences ranging from 10 to 15 years in prison.

Read Also: BCIJ Chief El Khiame: Morocco Shares Counterterrorism Expertise with European Partners

Morocco also put in place a program to counter violent extremism through strict security measures, regional cooperation, intelligence sharing, the promotion of moderate Islam, and democratic reform.

The program includes the “Moussalaha” or reconciliation approach. The strategy seeks to reintegrate suspects convicted of terror-related crimes into society.

Morocco remains world’s counter-terror leader

Despite the deterioration, Morocco remains safer than many international powers, including the US, the UK, Canada, and France.

Morocco is also safer than neighboring countries in the ranking, such as Algeria (54th), and Tunisia (51st).

Unlike Tunisia, and other countries that have experienced terror threats, the level of terrorism and ISIS activity in Morocco is very limited.

Morocco has only experienced a few terrorist attacks. Prior to the Imlil murders, the last incident dates back to 2011 at Argana, a renowned cafe in Marrakech Jemaa El Fna square.

The four main perpetrators of the Imlil murder pledged allegiance to ISIS, but the terror group has never claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The Moroccan government, however, referred to the crime as a terror attack seeking to create fear and undermine Morocco’s stability and security.

Morocco’s BCIJ arrested 24 individuals involved in the terror murders, sentencing three of the main perpetrators to the death penalty.

The court confirmed the sentences in an appeal session in October. The Sale Court of Appeal upheld the prison terms ranging from 5 to 30 years for the other defendants and increased the jail term for one of the defendants from 15 to 20 years.