By Siham Ali
Morocco broke up a terror cell in Agourai, near Meknes, the interior ministry announced Monday (April 9th).
The members of the Islamist group planned to destroy government facilities and banks branches in the region, officials said. The three suspects allegedly sought to cut off power in the target areas to ensure maximum destruction.
“The suspects spread their extremist ideas on the internet. They advocated disobedience through protests and acts of destruction. Their aim was to recruit the largest possible number of sympathisers in order to involve them in bringing their conspiracy to fruition,” the ministry statement said.
The arrest of the alleged terrorists by the judicial police (BNPJ) highlights the fact that Morocco must remain vigilant if it wants to thwart the plans of terrorists, experts said.
Vigilance by security services has spared the country several deadly attacks, political analyst Magid Ibrahimi noted.
“Breaking up a cell at this stage of planning is not easy,” he added.
Efforts to overcome the terrorist threat must be co-ordinated at the national and regional levels, Ibrahimi said, adding that the Maghreb faces security challenges to which a collective response with both security and social dimensions must be found.
That view was shared by sociologist Samira Kassimi, who said that efforts to tackle poverty and raise awareness in schools are essential to ensure that young Moroccans will not be easy targets for extremists and fanatics. She argued that schoolchildren and their families must be made aware of the dangers so that pupils can be forearmed.
“The role of schools and families is essential. Children must be warned of the dangers of extremism at an early age. They must also be taught the values of tolerance and openness,” she said.
As for the public, opinions were split between those who welcomed the vigilance of the security services and those who have doubts about the interior ministry’s claims to have broken up a terrorist cell.
Abbas Chihabi, a 32-year-old employee, was one of the sceptics. He claimed it was a ploy by the interior ministry to scare people and prevent demonstrations.
But student Charifa Batali disagrees. She believes that fanaticism and extremism do exist in Morocco and that this makes it essential to guard against disaster at all times.
“I have faith in the competence of the Moroccan security services. Their ability to thwart the plans of terrorists is no longer in doubt. Despite this vigilance, however, there have been some attacks, because you can’t wipe out the terrorist mind-set completely,” she said.