Head of Morocco’s central bureau of judicial investigations (BCIJ) Habboub Cherkaoui has alerted to the surge in numbers of Polisario fighters who join the ranks of terrorist groups in the Sahel, notably Al Qaeda.
Faced with grim prospects and oppression in the camps, many of the disenchanted youth held under the yoke of the Polisario militias and their mentor, Algeria, turn to extremism.
Radicalization is taking place in the camps by extremist Imams that pave the ideological way for the youth to fight for terrorist groups in the Sahel, Cherkaoui told jeune Afrique magazine.
The terrorist threat facing the Sahel and north Africa requires joint efforts but Cherkaoui deplored that Algeria remains reluctant to cooperate with Morocco in the region to counter terrorism.
The Sahel poses an enormous security challenge for Morocco, he said, adding that terrorist groups there are taking advantage of political crises and lack of security presence as they operate in vast desert land.
Another factor that worries Morocco is the fact that IS has shifted attention to the Sahel after its defeat in Afghanistan and Syria.
The terrorist group has found in the Sahel “fertile ground,” he said, noting the danger posed by IS in the Greater Sahara, led by former Polisario member Adnane Abu Walid Al-Sahrawi, which perpetrated numerous attacks in the region claiming civilian lives.
The US has offered a reward of 5 million dollars for anyone who helps in finding the Polisario terrorist.
Cherkaoui also highlighted the vigilance and pre-emptive approach adopted by Morocco’s security services, which led to foiling numerous terrorist groups and attacks.
Since it was created in 2015, the BCIJ has dismantled 82 cells, including 76 loyal to IS and arrested 1338 people, he said.
He also stressed Morocco’s full involvement in international efforts to counter terrorism and extremism, stressing on key intelligence provided by Morocco that helped stop attacks in many countries including recently the US, France, Spain and Belgium.