In 2019, the US Department put a $5 million price on the head of the Polisario member.
Rabat – Mohamed Nifaoui, a member of the Moroccan Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ), has renewed Morocco’s concerns regarding the security situation in Sahel due to terror threats.
Nifaoui, who is BCIJ’s anti-terrorism section’s divisional commissioner , warned against the worrying security situation in Sahel during his participation in the annual International Conference on Countering Violent Extremism.
Rabat is hosting the event from February 16-18.
This is not the first time that a Moroccan security official warns about the situation in the Sahel, a region frequently described as a breeding ground for terrorist networks.
Nifaoui, who represented the BCIJ at the conference, said that a number of terror organizations are taking advantage of the crises and fragile security situation in the Sahel and Sahara region in Africa to carry out their crimes.
He recalled the involvement of a Polisario member in leading a network that have been active in terror strikes in the region between 2016 and early 2020.
He said the Polisario member, Adnane Abo Alwalid, is leading a network that targets “joint military sites and patrols comprising local and international soldiers in the countries of Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali.”
Nifaoui said Abo Al Walid’s network has destroyed several sites in the Sahel and caused many deaths and injuries.
In 2019, the US State Department put a $5 million bounty price on the head of the Polisario member, citing his involvement in the death of four American soldiers.
Abou El Walid was involved in the Tongo Tongo terror ambush that in October 2017.
The ambush also caused the death of four Nigerien soldiers.
With most indicators pointing to more fragility in the Sahel, BCIJ’s member called for adopting a “shared responsibility”-driven regional security approach to increase efforts to fight against terror networks.
Nifaoui said that terror organizations in the Sahel receive weapons in unsupervised areas thanks to Al Walid’s relations with transnational organized crime networks.
He also received support from combatants who are members of the separatist group of the Polisario Front.
In 2017, security officials in Morocco identified 100 Polisario members who joined ISIS.
Counterterrorism in Morocco
Morocco has dismantled 2,009 terrorism cells since 2002 as part of its counterterrorism approach, the representatives from the BCIJ announced.
As well as arresting 3,535 people for their alleged involvement in terror activities, Moroccan intelligence and security services have in recent years aborted around 500 potentially “bloody” terrorism plots, Nifaoui revealed.
He explained that Morocco is a regional and global leader in the fields of counterterrorism and de-radicalization.
The security official said Morocco has taken several measures to boost the field against extremism, including its mechanism to manage religious fields.
Some measures included the unification of “fatwas,” official statements or orders from an Islamic religious leaders.
He said that fatwas are the exclusive specialty of Morocco’s Higher Council of Ulemas (scholars).
Morocco also introduced the Mohammed VI Institute for the Training of Imams and the Mohammed VI Foundation of African Ulema.
The institute, whose driving philosophy is to equip its students to deal with the challenges of Islam in the 21st century, deals with topics “Islam and modernity.” It trains hundreds of imams to tolerance and counter radicalization or extremism.
Nifaoui concluded that strengthening criminal law also helps Morocco to boost actions against terrorism in a “clear and direct way.”