Morocco’s commendable approach to counterterrorism continues to receive widespread recognition from the international community, including the United States, underscoring the country’s vigilance in the face of the growing terrorist threat.
The State Department is the latest to underscore the effectiveness of Morocco’s counterterrorism approach in its 2022 Country Reports on Terrorism.
Like in previous years, this latest Country Report highlights Morocco’s emphasis on strengthening security mechanisms to tackle the persistent national, regional, and global terror threats.
As well as applauding Morocco’s successful approach to counter-terrorism, the expressed satisfaction with the “strong” security cooperation between the US and Morocco while calling for cementing the strategic partnership.
“The Government of Morocco continued its comprehensive strategy, which includes vigilant security measures, regional and international cooperation, and counter-radicalization policies,” the State Department said in its new report.
The report then went on to shed light on Morocco’s efforts to mitigate the risk of terrorism in 2022, saying the country made fewer terrorism-related arrests last year compared to the pre-COVID period.
According to data compiled by the report, Morocco’s security services arrested at least 20 individuals in 10 counterterrorism operations in 2022. The arrests also included the dismantling of cells in the early phases of planning attacks against different targets, including security service buildings and prominent public figures.
Emphasizing Morocco’s commitment to helping to mitigate terrorism crisis nationally and internationally, the State Department stressed that the country’s security services have “leveraged intelligence collection, police work, and collaboration with international partners to conduct CT operations.”
Regarding the terror-related arrests made in 2022, the report outlined border security as foremost among Morocco’s strategic priorities.
Morocco fulfills this top priority assignment through teamwork and cooperation between all Moroccan authorities, including the General Directorate for National Security (DGSN) which is in charge of conducting border inspections at ports of entry like the Mohammed V International Airport in Casablanca, the report stressed.
Meanwhile, the report highlighted the regular communication between US and Moroccan security services to prevent or counter common security threats. “ Law enforcement officials and private airline carriers worked regularly with the United States to detect and deter individuals attempting to transit illegally and to address watchlisted travelers,” it said.
Anti-illegal entries and effort against terrorism financing
In addition to Morocco’s security operations against terrorism, the report also delved into the country’s technical efforts to address forgery and terrorism financing.
On this emerging front, the State Department stressed Morocco’s “high capabilities” in detecting fraudulent documents, citing the resources the country’s security services deploy citing along roads in border areas and at entrances to major municipalities to detect any problems.
“Moroccan Naval and Coast Guard units monitored and patrolled the country’s extensive coastal waters, including the Strait of Gibraltar, to interdict illicit traffickers,” the report said.
As part of its efforts to track and counter financial support for terrorism, the report detailed, Morocco has been a member of several regional intelligence institutions, namely the the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force.
“Morocco remained on the FATF ‘gray list’ in 2022. During 2022, FATF reported that Morocco took steps toward improving its Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime,” the report said.
The report further emphasized Morocco’s continued commitment to tackling violent extremism through innovative, unconventional efforts, including the development of an educational curriculum for imams as well as female and male Islamic guides.
“Morocco’s imam training center in Rabat trains imams mostly from West Africa,” the report said, stressing the unique effectiveness of Morocco’s bid to deradicalize through investment in scholarly research, education curricula revision, and youth outreach programs to discuss religious and social topics.
In particular, the report cited the commendable Moussalaha or Reconciliation program, which was initiated by the General Delegation for Prison Administration and Reintegration to help re-integrate terror convicts into society.
“The General Delegation for Prison Administration and Reintegration, in cooperation with other ministries, conducted several training workshops of its deradicalization program, Moussalaha (Reconciliation) for both women and men,” the report said.