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Morocco dismantles 'Ansar al-Sharia' terror cell

By Mawassi Lahcen for Magharebia in Casablanca – 07/11/12

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Morocco thwarted a large-scale terrorist plot to bomb strategic sites in several cities, the interior ministry announced on Monday (November 5th).

Eight members of a new Ansar al-Sharia offshoot group were arrested in Rabat and other cities for allegedly plotted attacks against "sensitive buildings, security headquarters and tourist sites", the interior ministry said.

Dubbed "Ansar al-Sharia in the Islamic Maghreb", the cell was seeking material and military support from its fellow al-Qaeda allies in northern Mali, the ministry added.

The cell includes a former Salafist Jihadist prisoner and al-Qaeda-linked activist known for expertise in explosives, intelligence officers from the Directorate of Territorial Surveillance (DST) determined.

The arrests came less than a week after police dismantled another terror cell that intended to create a training camp in the Rif mountains and "carry out terrorist acts against public authorities".

The operation came less than two weeks after the arrest of Hassan Younsi, founder of the "Co-ordination of Ansar al-Sharia in Morocco".

The new group made its presence known September 17th with the launch of a Facebook page and the posting of a doctrinal document on jihadist forums.

Younsi, who lives in Salé, was arrested October 21st in the northern Moroccan city of Tétouan after visiting Sheikh Omar Hadouchi.

He had asked Sheikh Omar Hadouchi to help resolve his dispute with the leaders of "Co-ordination for the Defence of Islamist Prisoners in Morocco", which includes veteran Moroccan jihadists who returned from Afghanistan.

Hadouchi, however, disavowed "Ansar al-Sharia in Islamic Maghreb", warning Salafist Jihadists against joining the new group.

It is not yet known whether Younsi is the leader of the cell dismantled on November 5th.

"Security authorities closely monitor the moves of extremists and then intervene at the right time to arrest terrorist cells in the bud before they pass on to the stage of implementing their plans," Moroccan researcher Driss Ksouri told Magharebia.

The analyst linked the appearance of the Ansar al-Sharia movement in the region to two factors. The first is the transfer of al-Qaeda leadership to Ayman al-Zawahiri after Osama Bin Laden's death. Unlike bin Laden, who targeted Western powers, al-Zawahiri has always been focused on combating local regimes and Arab rulers.

The second factor is the Arab Spring, which brought moderate Islamists to power. According to Ksouri, the more radical Islamist movements turned to Ansar al-Sharia, while the moderate ones "accepted the rules of the political game to benefit from the Arab Spring".

"The name 'Ansar al-Sharia' itself implies that the only thing that can satisfy these movements is the establishment of the caliphate system and application of Sharia law," Ksouiri said.

"Anything else, including democracy, constitutions, elections, parliaments, and man-made laws, are classified under kufr and secularism which they are fighting," he said.

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  1. Anonymous thumb

    Belhajilali 2012-11-12

    To Ben– In fact, in comparison to what is going on in a country like Egypt, our intellectuals and artists have demonstrated their timidity.


  2. Anonymous thumb

    hassoun 2012-11-10

    His Majesty, Mohammed VI, must not pardon the terrorists. You must never trust them. The pardoned ones are always the repeat offenders. Have no pity on the ones who kill innocent people. Hassan II and Basri were right. In their time, there were no bearded murderers. They were crushed before they even thought about committing their crimes.


  3. Anonymous thumb

    BEN 2012-11-9

    The security bodies can put an end o this “green” violence, which is also the victim of its absurd objective.


  4. Anonymous thumb

    Belhajilali 2012-11-8

    I bet, on the one hand, that the recently dismantled group is overflowing with trash that had already benefited from a Royal pardon and, on the other hand, that they were trained and supervised by criminals born and raised in the university sewers of Europe.


  5. Anonymous thumb

    BEN 2012-11-8

    The security authorities can handle any “green” violence as it can suffer the fate of their absurd objective, which can only draw in support without plans and without perspective, especially among young people who’ve already been convicted for various reasons. We are not facing “revolutionary” terrorist violence experienced in Europe[the Red Brigade, direct action, etc.), but a return backward to the time of Hannibal. But, “security” is not enough in itself. The role of the Moroccan intellectuals and their failure to start evaluating political violence remain incomprehensible. The philosophers, writers, movie directors, artists, etc. are avoiding the subject, and prefer conferences and the “hast thou seen” gossip, but aren’t concerned when it has to do with their very own extinction. Let’s not talk about parties. Dual language is what prevails here.


  6. Anonymous thumb

    شوقي 2012-11-8

    Mohamed VI is the cause of these altercations and generals of the Makhzen are behind them.


  7. Anonymous thumb

    Djelloul Laouichi 2012-11-7

    This shows that no one is immune.