Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido underscored Morocco’s key role in promoting the European Union’s counterterrorism efforts, saying that the Kingdom is Spain’s “best partner” in addressing the global scourge of jihadism.
The Spanish minister, who made the statement at an address to a conference in Madrid themed: “European Union Challenges: Jihadist Terrorism”, stressed that the EU’s security begins in Africa.
“Europe’s security begins in the Sahel and Central Africa,” two regions through which illegal migrants transit and where human being trafficking mafias and terrorist networks are very active, he said, noting the need for a sustained International cooperation to address such security challenges.
On July 3, Interior Ministers of Morocco, Spain and France met in Seville to discuss the means to address the proliferation of terrorist and criminal activity in the Sahel in the wake of the UN Security Council’s approval of the launch of a multinational military force in the Sahel.
The inclusion of Morocco and Spain in efforts to counter terrorism in the Sahel mirrors the concern of the two countries regarding the surge of terrorist groups in the region and its implications on their domestic security.
The two countries’ security services have carried out lately several joint police operations against drug traffickers and jihadi operatives involved in radicalizing new recruits to their cause and sending them to fight in areas like Syria and Iraq.
During a visit he paid to rabat early July, the Spanish Interior Minister commended the level of security cooperation with Morocco saying that Moroccan intelligence services play a key role in helping Spain counter the terrorist threat.
Moroccan security services played a decisive role in busting several transborder terrorist cells plotting attacks in Europe, he had said, adding that thanks to the excellent level of coordination between the Spanish and Moroccan security and intelligence services, several terrorist attacks were foiled and joint operations were conducted to arrest terrorists before they moved into action.
In an earlier statement to the Spanish news agency EFE, Juan Ignacio Zoido had said, “Morocco helped Spain arrest 178 dangerous individuals and cooperated in the dismantlement of 10 terrorist cells.”
The Spanish official also expressed recognition for Morocco’s cooperation in addressing illegal migration, noting that illegal migration has dropped significantly thanks to Morocco’s cooperation.
“Without Morocco and its security services, the scale of illegal migration will be much more pressing,” Zoido had said.