Morocco arrested Soumah in 2012 on terror charges and for undermining the country’s security through serious terrorist plots.
Rabat – Abderrazak Soumah, a former convicted terrorist and leader of the “Moujahidin movement” denied claims of torture in Moroccan prisons.
Soumah appeared in a video recently after several former convicts spoke about their experiences in Moroccan prisons, claiming they were subject to torture.
Soumah mentioned Ali Aarrass, a Belgian-Moroccan citizen and one of the founding members of the terror movement.
“The reason why the movement started was to face the regime,” Soumah confessed.
The movement’s goal was to “spread chaos in the country by causing explosions,” he said.
Soumah pointed fingers at Ali Aarrass, who became a member of the movement in 1981.
“I met him several times, in France, Belgium, and Morocco.”
Aarrass received a 12 years sentence in 2012 for several charges, including affiliation to a terror organization and for plotting to train Moroccan militants.
During his arrest, Aarrass claimed he was a “victim” of “torture,” declaring he signed confessions on his involvement in terrorist activity under “torture.”
Soumah, who was in close connection with Aarrass, gave shocking details about the movement’s plots and involvement in bringing weapons to Morocco.
“He was the logistics and finances manager of the movement,” Soumah said.
The former convicted terrorist added that Aarrass was the first to bring weapons illegally into Morocco in 2003, exactly in Berkane, northeastern the country.
Soumah said Aarrass brought him two guns.
“Aarrass was in charge of arming the movement with other guns,” he said, including those seized when the cell members were arrested near Tiflet in 2012.
“He was the one responsible, within the group, of the weapons. In addition to the weapons found in 2005, he was the one to bring them in from abroad. This was his responsibility,” he said.
Soumah said Aarrass had military knowledge since he was part of the army in Belgium.
“He knew weapons very well,” said Soumah who was stunned by the claims made by Aarrass.
He also denied claims that Aarrass does not understand Arabic or Darija.
“This is completely untrue. He used to speak Darija [Moroccan Arabic] with us normally. And we don’t speak French in our meetings and our conversations, we only spoke Arabic.”
Fake torture claims
Aarrass accused Morocco of torture claims in prison, an allegation that several NGOs and international media repeated.
Most recently, former Moroccan convicted terrorist Mohamed Hajib made several torture claims in online videos.
Morocco arrested Hajib in 2010 and sentenced him to seven years in prison over charges of training with terror groups.
Morocco sentenced him after his deportation from Pakistan.
After leaving prison, Hajib moved to Germany and uploaded videos, attacking Morocco and security services.
In response, several former convicts issued press releases and videos to dispute torture allegations in Moroccan prisons.
Hassan al-Khattab, an ex-convicted terrorist in Morocco denounced Hajib’s claims.
Al-Khattab argued that Hajib’s claims are “only falsehood.”
He also challenged him to prove the torture claims.
“We are not waiting for any party to pay us to stab our country in the back. You did not only betray an institution but 40 million Moroccans,” Al-Khattab said.
Recently, observers linked Morocco’s move to cut communication with the German embassy in Rabat due to Berlin’s decision to not extradite Hajib despite the alleged threats and incitement of hatred published in his videos.
The case of Hajib is among several reasons, regarding Germany’s position in the Western Sahara conflict.
Germany’s criticism of Morocco’s efforts in tackling the COVID-19 crisis and its remarkable mediation in the Libyan dossier also triggered the tension between Berlin and Rabat.
Meanwhile, other observers have pointed to the Berlin-based Transparency International’s recent report about Morocco, which landed the North African country in hot water for its tax practices, as a possible cause behind the conflict.
“Morocco is failing to make progress against systemic corruption in its public sector,” the report from Germany’s sponsored organization claimed.
We were respected
Other former convicts, including Soumah denied torture claims in Moroccan prisons.
Soumah said he was expecting severe punishment during his arrest in 2012.
“I was surprised by the respectful and lenient treatment I and the 20 others who were with me.”
He said he was shocked as he was hearing torture claims in Moroccan prisons.
Soumah said Morocco had enough evidence and documents of his involvement in the movement.
“Since our trials and then our time in jail, we were respected and well treated. Every jail we were taken to, we were well treated,” he said.
“Why did we bring in the weapons? To put them in couscous? If we had used the weapons, it would have been a catastrophe,” Soumah emphasized.
Earlier this month, Moroccan sheikh Mohamed Fizazi joined former convicts, denying torture claims in Moroccan prisons.
Fizazi received a 30-year sentence in prison for his “ideological influence” on the perpetrators of the 2003 Casablanca attacks.
The former convict received a royal pardon in 2011 and was released from prison.
Fizazi accused Hajib and people claiming they were subject of torture of “inventing claims of abuse to garner public sympathy.”
Morocco’s reconciliation program
Morocco’s security services are putting in place a program in prisons to fight against extremism and reintegrate former convicted terrorists into society.
Morocco launched the Moussalaha (reconciliation) program in 2017, with the aim of rehabilitating prisoners with extremist ideologies.
The program revolves around reconciliation with oneself, reconciliation with religious texts, and society.
The program is part of Morocco’s counterterrorism approach, which receives applause from the international community.
All security services in Morocco cooperate to fight against terrorism.
Morocco’s Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ) said that the country’s services have dismantled 2,009 terror cells since 2002.
Morocco also arrested 3,535 people for their alleged involvement in terror activities and aborted around 500 “bloody” terror plots in recent years, BCIJ chief Haboub Cherkaoui argued.
In a recent interview with Jeune Afrique, the BCIJ chief said that Morocco is not safe from terror threats.
“To put it clearly, we are never safe, and no country in the world can claim to be so,” he said.