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Thursday, July 24, 2008

AQIM Sells Martyrs to Al Qaeda in Iraq to Pay for their Jihad - Show me the Fatwa...

July 24, 2008

Moroccan Crackdown on Salafiya Jihadiya Recruitment of Fighters for Iraq
07/23/2008 - By Thomas Renard (from Terrorism Focus, July 23) - For the third time this year, Morocco has announced the dismantling of a terrorist group.

  • February -Belraj -Moroccan Government arrests a terrorist team.
  • May - 11 terrorists arrested -severa groups were arested for plotting attacks in Morocco and Belgium
  • July 2 - Police arrested of 35 alleged recruiters for al-Qaeda operations in Morocco, Iraq and Algeria.

According to the police, the recruiters formed an organized network active across the entire country. The arrests took place in Tangiers, Larache, Oujda, Tetouan, Rabat, Khouribga and Fes (AFP, July 2).

  • The network had been under surveillance for several months,
  • It was dismantled earlier this month, as there were signs of an imminent attack.
  • The local cells were apparently at the stage of pinpointing targets and the group leaders were waiting for the green light from al-Qaeda’s core leadership in order to launch bombing operations, according to security sources (Assabah, July 4).

In a recent interview, Abdelhak Bassou, head of Morocco’s Renseignements Généraux, the domestic intelligence agency, said that 11 terrorists arrested in May were preparing attacks planned for this summer against tourist hotels in Morocco.

Bassou did not specify whether the cells dismantled in May and July were related. However, he suggested that they were carrying out similar activities—recruiting for international jihad and plotting domestic attacks (AP, July 11).

  • Local cells dismantled this month across Morocco were only recently activated.
  • New cells have also been created, including those in towns that had been untouched by extremism so far, such as El Hajeb and Taourirt.
  • While several members of the network—including the alleged leader, known by his nom de guerre, Abu Makhlouf—traveled across the country to recruit volunteers, returnees from Iraq were charged with training the recruits according to security sources (Assabah, July 4).

Although more information is still needed in this case, the central role played by Iraqi veterans in the creation and training of Moroccan cells should serve as a reminder of the danger constituted by former Iraqi fighters returning to their home countries or leaving for other destinations, following a similar pattern to the Afghan veterans.

Although a wave of returnees is observed, the export of Moroccan jihadis continues. Indeed, most individuals recruited by the Abu Makhlouf network—around 30 jihadi candidates—were sent to Iraq.

This represents only a fraction of the Moroccan fighters in Iraq. The data from Moroccan security services indicate that 16 other cells—previously dismantled—had managed to send more than 130 volunteers within the space of three years (Elaph, June 18).

Considering that at least 15 more cells have been dismantled, some cells are still under surveillance, some cells are unknown to the police and some individuals travel by themselves, the number of Moroccan fighters in Iraq is probably much higher than official estimates.

A security source revealed to Elaph the detailed itinerary of Moroccan jihadis joining the Iraqi insurgency.

  • First, they board an aircraft to Istanbul, Turkey.
  • From the airport, they take a cab to a travelers’ station where they buy a bus ticket to Damascus, Syria.
  • Once arrived, volunteers wait at a hotel for a smuggler, who is paid around $15,000 cash per trip (Elaph, June 18).

The Abu Makhlouf network was also responsible for recruiting volunteers to join al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

  • Three individuals were allegedly sent to Algeria.
  • There are also indications that Abu Makhlouf personally traveled to southern Algeria, Mali and Mauritania in order to establish contacts with AQIM leadership (Assabah, July 4).
  • According to the police, the recently dismantled cells were part of the Salafiya Jihadiya, a Morocco-based Salafist movement. Moroccan authorities blamed this group for the 2003 Casablanca bombings. The Salafiya Jihadiya was also allegedly involved in the 2004 Madrid bombings and was accused of plotting an attack against U.S. Navy ships in the straits of Gibraltar in 2002.
  • The Salafiya Jihadiya is a particularly understudied and obscure jihadi organization

The Rest by Thomas Renard @ Jamestown

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