Morocco dismantles Salafia Jihadia cell
By Naoufel Cherkaoui for Magharebia in Rabat – 01/07/09
Moroccan authorities referred four terror suspects to the public prosecutor of the Court of Appeal in Rabat on Monday (June 29th) on charges of forming a "criminal gang, preparation of terrorist acts, collecting funds for acts of terrorism, drug trafficking, car theft, and falsifying vehicle registration documents".
They will subsequently be referred to the investigation magistrate who examines terrorism cases in Salé.
Security officials announced the dismantling of a Salafia Jihadia terrorist cell last Friday, reporting the seizure of three Ceuta-registered vehicles and documents and audio tapes calling for jihad, legitimising suicide operations and killing hostages taken by al-Qaeda.
According to security authorities, the cell was planning violent strikes to destabilise Morocco, targeting tourist locations and diplomatic headquarters, while they had no intention of committing any acts on Spanish soil.
Local newspapers reported that the Spanish Intelligence Agency provided Moroccan authorities with detailed information leading to the raid on the cell. At the time of their arrest, the suspects were allegedly putting the final touches on their deadly plans.
The cell was reportedly led by 34-year old Abou Yacine, a resident of Ceuta. He served two years in prison following the 2006 dismantling of the "Ansar Al Mehdi" terrorist cell, which reportedly planned to overthrow the Moroccan monarchy.
Authorities said that members of the cell were involved in organised crime, justified under the principle of "istehlal", which is often used to excuse illicit behaviours.
According to press reports, the cell cultivated relations with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and various types of smugglers and terrorists in Morocco and Europe.
"The most important pillar in the ideology of the jihadist salafist movement is the call for political change through violent opposition to existing regimes," Mohammed Darif, an expert in Islamist armed groups, told Magharebia.
Darif said that many such groups benefit from the principle of istehlal.
"It's a principle on which jihadist salafism is based, and it regards taking the blood and money of others as permissible within sharia, so long as it considers them infidels," he said.
Darif added that the allegiance of these groups to al-Qaeda "makes them even more dangerous, as they can benefit from the [group's] logistical support".
Hassan, a young Moroccan man, spoke to Magharebia about the successful raid.
"No one has the right to undermine the stability of our nation," he said. "We reject the chaos that these groups intend to drag us into."
The young man suggested that terrorism is a cultural problem, rather than a security problem. "We have to stage a cultural revolution," he said, "to stand in the face of extremism."
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