Caitlin Dearing Scott
September 22, 2017
Over the past week, Morocco has undertaken a number of initiatives to advance regional and global cooperation on countering terrorism and violent extremism. From deepening intelligence cooperation with European countries to analyzing the roots of radicalization in coordination with the United States, these latest initiatives underscore once again the country’s leadership in confronting one of today’s most pressing challenges. Here is a summary of the latest developments.
Expanding Counterterrorism Efforts Abroad. In an interview with the Associated Press earlier this week, Abdelhak Khaime, director of the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations (also known as Morocco’s FBI), announced that the government is working on a new strategy to track Moroccans who become radicalized in Europe, part of an enhanced counterterrorism strategy by a country that is a “key player in the global anti-extremism struggle.” Responding to the threat of second generation Moroccan extremists committing attacks in Europe, Khaime noted that although the youths had no connection to Morocco beyond their family origin, “Morocco’s government now must adopt another method just to control the return of those people and keep a watch on them, try and gather intelligence on them.” Without providing specifics, Khaime emphasized the “importance of intelligence cooperation across borders, and said his agency is working on establishing offices in partner countries.” Morocco already works closely with partners in Europe, playing an instrumental role in helping French police identify the suspect in the November 2015 Paris attacks and working closing with Spanish authorities after the most recent attack in Barcelona. This announced expansion seems to be an effort to further institutionalize those partnerships.
Leadership of the Global Counterterrorism Forum. On September 20, the Kingdom was reelected as the co-chair, along with the Netherlands, of the Global Counterterrorism Forum at the organization’s 8th Ministerial Plenary Meeting, extending its mandate for an additional two years. Speaking after the reelection, Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita noted, “The vote to reelect Morocco as the leader of this body is an eloquent testimony to the confidence that the international community attaches to the Moroccan approach, developed in accordance with the high guidelines of King Mohammed VI, to fight terrorism. It is also a recognition of the valuable and often decisive contribution of Morocco in the fight against terrorism.”
New Initiative with the US to Address Homegrown Violent Extremists. Also at the GCTF’s annual meetings, Morocco and the United States announced a new initiative to “address the growing threat posed by ISIL/Da’esh-inspired and linked Homegrown Violent Extremists (HVEs), exploring ways for stakeholders to tackle these issues in a coordinated manner.” According to the State Department, The Initiative to Address Homegrown Violent Extremists, implemented in partnership with the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ), “will develop new Good Practices on this issue with a focus on highlighting practical steps governments and practitioners can take to detect, intervene and address HVEs.” The initiative will also “explore factors that are driving individuals to become HVEs, how these individuals can be better identified, highlight any differences in the HVE radicalization process from that of FTFs, promote interventions to dissuade or prevent individuals from becoming HVEs, and identify opportunities for stakeholders to coordinate and collaborate more effectively to prevent, detect, intervene, and respond.”