Morocco has dismantled 207 terrorist cells since 2002, announced a recent press release from the country’s General Directorate of Territorial Surveillance (DGST).
In the last three years alone, Moroccan security services dismantled 32 terrorist cells, the majority of which were affiliated to the “Islamic State,” ISIS.
According to DGST, Morocco has adopted a multidimensional counterterrorism strategy based on anticipation.
Over the past two decades, Morocco has suffered three terrorist attacks: The May 16 bombings in Casablanca in 2003, the Argana attack in Marrakech in 2011, and the murder of two Scandinavian tourists in Imlil in 2018.
On the other hand, the country avoided hundreds of attacks thanks to the preventive approach of Moroccan security services, DGST’s press release said.
DGST bases its work on collecting information about suspicious persons, including their actions, their publications on social networks, and their contacts.
“We analyze [the information] deeply, then we make the decision to intervene, depending on the imminence of the danger,” the press release said.
The monitoring of terrorist cells can extend to more than one month, in order for security services to collect the maximum of information on its members, targets, and contacts.
Sometimes, however, security services intervene urgently, in 24 hours or less, if DGST collects information that suspects the terrorist cell to be planning an imminent attack.
DGST’s press release highlighted that Morocco’s counterterrorism strategy is twofold: To arrest and imprison terrorists, but also to fight against extremist ideologies through a deradicalization process.
“Those arrested in terrorism cases, apart from those involved in blood crimes, can still be reintegrated into society once they have revised their extremist ideals,” DGST said.
The press release gave the example of the “Moussalaha” (Reconciliation) program, operated by Morocco’s General Delegation for Prison Administration and Reintegration (DGAPR), in coordination with other bodies such as the Mohammadia League of Ulemas (Scholars).
The program, launched in 2017, aims to psychologically and intellectually rehabilitate prisoners with extremist ideologies. So far, “Moussalaha” has benefited at least 68 ex-detainees.