Caitlin Dearing Scott
November 1, 2017
Morocco continues to use both hard and soft measures to confront terrorism and violent extremism in the Kingdom. Over the last week, there have been a few notable developments in the country’s ongoing CT and CVE efforts. In hard security news, authorities announced two new anti-terrorist operations:
- On October 23, Moroccan authorities arrested six people on terrorism charges in Rabat, Beni Mellal, and El Jadida. The arrests came just a week after a terrorist network loyal to the Islamic State was broken up. According to Ministry of Interior, the cell was planning to carry out terrorist operations at the behest of the ISIS.
- On October 25, Moroccan authorities announced the arrest of four people suspected of planning attacks in Fez. The Ministry of Interior said in a statement that knives and documents calling for jihad were seized during the operation.
These anti-terrorist operations are the most recent in a decades-long fight against extremism in the country. According to information released by the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations in late October, Morocco has successful dismantled 174 terrorist cells and thwarted 352 “destructive projects” since 2002.
On the soft-security front, the Kingdom launched new facilities at the Mohammed VI Institute for the Training of Imams, expanding the reach of this initiative to promote tolerant Islam and countere religious extremism. The new facilities – a pavilion, amphitheater, and residential building – will help the Institute accommodate more foreign students in response to increased demand. Since its opening, 712 foreign students have graduated from the Institute, and 300 others have benefited from short training courses. There are currently 778 foreign students enrolled in the two-to-three-year training program, according to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.
Morocco’s efforts to place women at the forefront of the fight against extremism, including through study at the Institute, were recently highlighted in an ABS-CBN News (Philippines) article that sought to provide helpful examples for the Philippines’ own fight against extremism. Profiling the mourchidate programs, through which women are trained to worked in mosques and answer religious questions and provide practical guidance, the article notes that the wisdom of the program is in its efforts to protect youth against extremism: “Women can be a moderating voice in their families, including the youth, who are then introduced to a tolerant and mainstream version of Islam at a young age.”
The article also profiled Morocco’s prison deradicalization program to help those involved in extremist activities reintegrate into society upon their release. The program, which includes vocational training and religious education, has been successful in reducing recidivism – one more step in the Kingdom’s fight against extremism.