Morocco provided the US with intelligence during its war in Afghanistan, declared Cherkaoui Habboub, the new director of the Moroccan Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations (BCIJ).
According to the BCIJ chief, Rabat’s intelligence was particularly crucial for the US’ raids on the Al-Qaeda-administered Khalden training camp.
“Morocco provided the US with information regarding the Khalden training camp, one of Osama bin Laden’s main military training camps in Afghanistan,” Habboub said. “The information allowed the bombing of the camp.”
The head of the BCIJ, also called “The Moroccan FBI,” made the statement in his first media appearance since his appointment on November 29, 2020. Habboub, who used to be the deputy director of the BCIJ, replaced Abdelhak Khiame who went into retirement.
The new director appeared on the “With Erramdani” show on television channel 2M on Sunday evening, January 24. During his appearance, Habboub shared details about the work of the BCIJ, including international cooperation and counterterrorism operations.
In addition to the US, Morocco has provided counterterrorism intelligence to France, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, and others, Habboub said.
“We regularly exchange information with our international partners,” he explained.
The senior security official gave the case of Abdelhamid Abaaoud as a second example. Abaaoud, a 28-year-old Moroccan-Belgian, was the main organizer of the November 2015 Paris attacks which killed 130 people and injured 416.
Habboub revealed that Morocco assisted French security services by providing precise information on the whereabouts of Abaaoud, as well as his associate Hasna Ait Boulahcen. The information allowed French police to launch a raid on the apartment where the two terrorists were hiding, three days after the attacks.
Responding to a question about terrorist threats in Morocco, Habboub said that the most imminent threat comes from the Sahel region, which turned into a “breeding ground” for terrorist groups.
The security official assured that the various Moroccan security institutions are always on their guard to abort any terrorist threat that might arise. However, he deplored the lack of security cooperation between Morocco and its eastern neighbor Algeria.
“It is sad that there is no cooperation with Algeria because the region poses a serious threat,” Habboub said.
Besides terrorist groups in the Sahel, the head of the BCIJ warned that several terrorists regularly attempt to recruit young Moroccans through social networks.
“Morocco has dismantled 209 terrorist cells since 2002, including 82 since the creation of the BCIJ [in 2015],” Habboub said.
“About 80% of terrorists arrested by the BCIJ are aged between 18 and 40,” he added.
Another terrorist threat for Morocco, Habboub declared, is the existence of the separatist Polisario Front in Tindouf, southwestern Algeria.
“The Polisario has proven links with terrorist groups in the region […] There are between 100 and 200 Polisario members who are active in the Sahelo-Saharan region,” he revealed.
At the end of the interview, Habboub reassured Moroccan citizens that the country’s security institutions are permanently collaborating with each other to ensure their safety. He also reaffirmed Morocco’s readiness to collaborate with international partners to prevent terrorist attacks across the world.
“Terrorism has no race, no nationality, and no religion,” he concluded.