IS plot to target Morocco's government and security officials thwarted, says Moroccan counter-terrorism authority

IS plot to target Morocco's government and security officials thwarted, says Moroccan counter-terrorism authority
Despite the relative stability, more than 1,600 Moroccans have reportedly joined jihadist groups abroad, as the sympathy with the jihadists groups continues to grow among much of Morocco's younger population, particularly in poorer neighbourhoods.
2 min read
17 March, 2022
Moroccan security services have dismantled more than 2,000 extremist cells since 2002. [Getty/AFP]

Moroccan authorities arrested on Wednesday five suspects allegedly affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) jihadist organisation, who were planning attacks on government officials, banks, and public forces.

Aged between 21 and 44, the five "Islamists" were arrested during a new anti-terrorism sweep across cities and villages in the west and south of the Moroccan kingdom.

"(These) extremists are involved in inciting and preparing the execution of terrorist projects and have undertaken the collection of extremist content on how to make explosive devices," Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ), the authority in charge of counter-terrorism, said in a press statement. 

Writings advocating for the extremist group, IS, and an inventory of material used in the manufacture of explosives , as well as knives, were reportedly taken from the suspects’ houses, according to the security forces.

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The five suspects also planned "assassinations of members of the security forces and the government, in addition to targeting financial and banking institutions to secure the resources and financing necessary for terrorist operations," the BCIJ said.

Since 2002, Moroccan security services have dismantled more than 2,000 extremist cells, conduting over 3,500 arrests of suspects linked to terrorism, according to official figures.

The Kingdom has largely been spared jihadist attacks since 2011 when a bombing in Marrakech's infamous café "Argana" killed at least fifteen people.

In 2018, two Scandinavian tourists were murdered by IS-linked militants during a hiking trip in the High Atlas mountains.

Despite the relative stability, in the past years, more than 1,600 Moroccans have reportedly joined jihadist groups such as ISIS in Syria, Iraq, and Libya, as the sympathy with the jihadists groups continues to grow among much of Morocco's younger population, especially in poorer neighbourhoods.