Morocco Cracks down on Returning IS fighters- official

Morocco Cracks down on Returning IS fighters- official

Morocco is unrelenting on its crackdown on the returning foreign fighters who joined the ranks of the Islamic state, Abdelhak Khiam, head of Morocco’s counter-terrorism agency (BCIJ),  said.

“We have arrested and brought to justice more than 200 returnees,” Khiam said in an interview with AFP.

He said the suspects were serving sentences ranging from 10 to 15 years in prison.

Legislation passed in 2015 allows police to arrest and interrogate returnees before transferring them to the judiciary, he said.

In 2015, an estimated 1 600 Moroccans had joined the ranks of jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria. “Some died in suicide operations or were shot by (international anti-ISIS) coalition forces,” he said, while others “fled to other countries.”

Touching on the surge of terrorist attacks committed by EU citizens of Moroccan origins, Khiam deplored the “problem of religious guidance” in European countries noting that “terrorism has no nationality”.

He also pointed out to Morocco’s multi-ponged deradicalization strategy, which, besides the security approach, gives utmost importance to “religious mentoring”.

On international cooperation, Khiam highlighted the role played by Morocco’s security services in averting multiple attacks in Europe.

He also warned of the time bomb in the Sahel region where terrorist groups have found “safe haven” entering into an alliance with terrorist networks.

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