Moroccan Authorities Uncover Network Charged With Financing Terror Operations

North Africa

The Moroccan counter-terrorism services have arrested three individuals in the city of Salé near the capital Rabat, who are charged with financing terrorist organisations in Syria and Iraq.

Continuing their operations to uncover terrorist organisations and sleeper cells, the Moroccan authorities have recently carried out an operation that led to the arrest of three ISIS-affiliated individuals in the country.

The operation, which occurred in the city of Salé near the country’s capital, Rabat, uncovered three French nationals and one Algerian that were attempting to finance ISIS activities.

According to the security sources, the individuals created a network within Morocco, which was in contact with ISIS’ network in Iraq and Syria.

Since the rise of the terrorist group, Morocco has been largely untroubled by ISIS sleeper cells compared to other countries in the region, owing to strong counter-terrorism operations.

Over the past years, dozens of Moroccans have been arrested after trying to reach or return from ISIS-held territories. Earlier this month the Moroccan Counterterrorism Bureau launched a preemptive operation that led to the arrest of 15 individuals with ties to ISIS.

The country’s Central Judicial Research Office also recently released figures, showing that between 2015 and 2018, over 52 sleeper cells had been uncovered and dismantled.

The crackdown on ISIS sleeper cells comes after the killing of two female tourists last year. Following the incident, the authorities arrested the sleeper cell responsible for the murder, only to discover that the head of the cell holds a Swiss passport and is not of Arab origin.

In addition to these arrests, and unlike other countries with counter-terrorism programs, the Moroccan model focuses heavily on soft power to counter the phenomenon. The country has hosted dozens of conferences over the years, which discuss the importance of religious literacy to curb the spread of extremism. As a result, institutions, which seek to educate clerics and youth on the dangers of extremism have been opened since 2014.

The use of both hard and soft power to cut down on religious extremism and terrorism in the country has made Morocco a potential model for successful counter-extremism policy.