Moroccan forces apprehend six suspected members of an internet-based terrorist group
The following article is republished with permission from Magharebia.
Morocco dismantles terror cell
By Sarah Touahri
December 29, 2010
Security services in Morocco broke up an alleged terror network involved “in what is known as cyber-terrorism”, the Interior Ministry announced on Monday (December 27th). The terrorists were suspected of planning car bomb attacks both inside Morocco and abroad.
“Members of this network have acquired a broad experience in the making of explosives and planned to use it in sabotage acts in several international hotspots… as well as within national territory,” the ministry said.
The six suspects were reportedly arrested December 10th in Oujda, Nador and Casablanca. According to the officials, a special team of high-level experts is pursuing terrorist groups operating on the internet to prevent attacks.
Terrorists are making much use of computer technology, including the internet, political analyst Mohamed Chemlali told Magharebia. They can use the web not only to convey radical messages to the public, young people in particular, but also to train terrorists and prepare them to carry out attacks.
“The internet is like a school for terrorists, because it contains all the information they need. The web is being used increasingly by terrorists to communicate with each other. Security failings must be addressed so that the public can be protected from terrorist plots,” he said.
According to professor of political science Mohamed Darif, despite the efforts made by the security services, terrorist groups are continuing to multiply. In his view, the latest group to have been caught differed from others in that its members were experts on explosives, which marks a turning point in the creation of terrorist groups in Morocco that must be watched closely.
Since the 2003 Casablanca attacks, the Moroccan authorities have captured over 60 terrorist groups, according to the official sources. Security officials and experts constantly underline the importance of stepping up regional and international co-operation to close the net on terrorists, especially in the Sahel, which is a breeding ground for terrorists allied with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
According to sociologist Samira Kassimi, the fight against terrorism is the responsibility of everyone, beginning with parents, who should protect their children against the threat posed by cyber-terrorism by teaching them about the dangers.
“Young people spend a lot of time browsing the internet and can come across terrorists who may manipulate them. You must always keep an eye on your children,” she said.
For his part, MP Mohamed Ansari emphasised that the capture of this latest group makes it essential to be vigilant and strengthen the law by adding provisions concerning the internet.
Magharebia is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defence, Africa Command.