Washington, DC, January 21, 2016 (MACP) — Morocco’s Interior Ministry announced earlier this week that Moroccan police had arrested a man who has links to ISIS and a “direct relationship” to the attackers in the mass killings that took place in Paris in November. According to the ministry, as reported by the Associated Press, the suspect, a Belgian who had traveled to Syria with one of the Paris bombers, was arrested near Casablanca on Friday and is currently under investigation.
It was Morocco that provided the information that helped French police find the Paris attackers – which led to the raid that ended with the death of ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud and several others on November 18, five days after the attack. Morocco is holding Abaaoud’s brother Yassine in custody and has issued a warrant for the arrest of another suspect, Salah Abdeslam. In short, as Reuters reported, “Morocco has emerged as a key ally for European investigators trying to piece together the geography” of the attacks.
Morocco’s contribution to the international fight against violent extremism began long before Paris. Morocco was the first country in the Maghreb to join the US anti-ISIS coalition and in May 2016 will join the Netherlands in co-chairing the Global Counter Terrorism Forum (GCTF) after already co-chairing the forum’s Foreign Terrorist Fighters Working Group.
At the United Nations’ Leaders’ Summit to Counter ISIL and Violent Extremism that took place alongside the United Nations General Assembly meeting in October, King Mohammed VI urged leaders to adopt “an integrated strategy” – on security, financial and legal fronts – to fight terrorism; and he pledged that “Morocco is ready to share its expertise with sister nations as well as the programs it has developed to disseminate the values of tolerant Islam and of openness to other religions, cultures and civilizations.”
The US Department of State’s annual Country Reports on Terrorism, released in June 2015, highlighted Morocco’s proactive role “to both stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters and to counter ISIL propaganda.” It also noted Morocco’s “comprehensive strategy,” which includes economic and human development measures to address the underlying causes, as well as a comprehensive training program for Imams from Morocco, Africa and Europe.
“Morocco has shown again and again, at home and abroad, its capacity, experience and commitment in the fight against the violent extremists who are creating such turmoil in the world,” said former US Ambassador to Morocco Edward M. Gabriel. “The US and Europe couldn’t have a stronger partner in this battle.”
Contact: Jordana Merran, 202.470.2049
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