In addition to the US State Department report, countries such as France and Spain continue to tout partnership with Morocco in the field of counterterrorism.
The agency continues to see Morocco’s counterterrorism strategy as a solid mechanism to mitigate the risk of terrorism in the region.
Morocco’s counterterrorism efforts, according to the report, doubled the number of related arrests last year, compared to 2018.
The US State Department acknowledged that Morocco continues to face “sporadic” terror threats from independent ISIS-inspired cells.
Like the US, Morocco has been stressing that the fight against terrorism is a long-term project.
In March 2019, Morocco’s Minister of the Interior, Abdelouafi Laftit, said that the first action to stop the spread of extremism is to end its ideological sources.
Laftit shared Morocco’s concerns at the 36th Council of Arab Ministers of the Interior in Tunis.
Head of the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ) Abdelhak El Khiame —one of Morocco’s active security units working against terrorism — shared the same thoughts in an interview with Italian news agency LaPressa in July, 2019.
“The fight against terrorism will take a long time, but if we work together with serenity and responsibility we can overcome the scourge,” El Khiame said.
Remarking on the BCIJ’s role, the State Department report said the security unit remains the “primary law enforcement agency responsive for CT [counterterrorism] prosecutions.”
Morocco has thwarted several potential terror operations through dismantling a score of extremist cells throughout the years.
Robust history of counterterrorism
The report concerning Morocco’s approach to fighting terrorism in 2019 recalls several recent positions the country adopted as part of its strategy.
The State Department document also mentions that the country did not witness any terror-related incidents in 2019, recalling dismantling operations of more than 25 cells and the arrest of over125 individuals for their alleged involvement with ISIS throughout the year.
The report recognizes that Moroccan authorities managed to arrest suspects in multiple operations last year, one of them being that of January, 2019, when BCIJ dismantled a 13-person cell for inciting terror crimes in several cities, including Casablanca, Mohammedia, and Sale.
The US State Department also spoke of how all security services in the country work together to ensure stability in the country.
The report highlights the role of Morocco’s General Directorate for National Security (DGSN) in maintaining border security as a “top priority.”
The US State Department also recalled the partnership between US officials and Morocco’s law enforcement, as well as private airline carriers, to detect any suspicious travelers.
“Moroccan airport authorities have excellent capabilities in detecting fraudulent documents,” the report says.
In addition to DGSN staff, customs and Royal Gendarmerie staff also have a responsibility in ensuring the security and safety of the country.
The report shows how all the country’s forces work together to ensure national security, including police, customs, and gendarmerie and navy forces.
Fight against violent extremism
Morocco’s government decided to accompany its counterterrorism approach with a program dubbed “Moussalha” (reconciliation), seeking to reintegrate prisoners convicted of terror-related activities into society.
The country introduced the program in 2018, putting eminent trust in it.
Morocco’s justice department issues on a regular basis press releases to announce royal pardons, at the request of King Mohammed VI, to select defendants convicted of terror related crimes who have applied to the program.
The country’s government has been also making efforts in the religious field through the Higher Council of Ulemas (scholars) and the training of imams.
The 2019 report on Morocco’s approach in the counterterrorism field echoes the findings of previous reports from the State Department, which also expressed satisfaction with the country’s counterterrorism strategy.
In November 2019, the US State Departement issued its 2018 Country Report on Terrorism for Morocco, lauding Morocco’s efficient efficent handling of terror threats.
The 2019 report speaks of the same counterterrorism mechanism that mitigated risks of terrorsim in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
All of the recent reports show how Morocco continues to face terror threats from small, independent extremist cells affiliated or inspired by ISIS.