In attempt to understand or rather to justify the atrocities that occurred in Barcelona and Cambrills, some media outlets chose the easy path to blame the origin of the perpetrators (in this case Morocco) of those vile acts. However and it is widely known and recognized that Morocco, in its pre-emptive war against terrorism, has been largely successful to disrupt a number of terrorist recruitment efforts in the kingdom. Moroccan security services known for their vigilance continue to break up and dismantle organizations and secret cells recruiting fighters for Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan.
Morocco follows a complex anti-terrorism policy borne largely out of the state’s reactions to the events of 16 May 2003, when a group, later found to be associated with al-Qaeda, attacked a number of sites in the city of Casablanca with home-made suicide bombs, killing about three dozen people including most of their own. The terrorist attacks of that day continue to shape anti-terrorism policy, broadly speaking, although with some recent and significant modifications. The strategy adapted after 16 May 2003 included an anti-terrorism law, social assistance programmes and a reform of the religious sector. In each of these three sectors Morocco has registered a number of successes. These positive achievements have encouraged many European countries to develop and reinforce their security partnership with Morocco in an effort to prevent terrorist acts. In fact, it was Moroccan counter terrorism intelligence that helped France and Belgium thwart a number of terror attacks and it was Moroccan intelligence that helped to locate the mastermind of the November 2015 atrocities in Paris Abdelhamid Abaaoud. In September 2016 Morocco’s intelligence service also alerted German counterparts that Anas Amiri was about to perpetrate a terrorist attack on German soil three months before he did.
Following the widely condemned terrorist acts in Barcelona, King Mohammed VI was among the first world leaders to condemn the atrocities that occurred in Barcelona qualifying them as an “odious criminal act, contrary to all human values and religious precepts”
Most of these atrocious terrorists and thugs are born and raised and more importantly radicalized in Europe. In 2016, the British think tank International Centre for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence released a study in which it stated that “jihadism offered redemption for crime while satisfying the personal needs and desires that led them to become involved in it, making the jump from criminality to terrorism smaller than is commonly perceived.” The British think tank found that the boundary between criminal gangs and jihadists is becoming increasingly blurred, with “up to 40 percent of terrorist plots in Europe” being partially financed by street crimes such as drug-dealing and burglaries, and adding that “in many European countries, the majority of jihadist foreign fighters are former criminals.” So, we cannot come today and blame the origin of those criminals for perpetrating those odious acts.
In fact, Europe should be blamed for its failed integration policy of its immigrants. Many feel marginalized and at a total loss of any identity that they become an easy prey in the hands of the terrorist cells. The youth perpetrating the Barcelona and Cambrills criminal attacks are more Spanish than they are Moroccan. Some of them were born in Spain and others were raised there, went to Spanish schools and they even speak Spanish better than Arabic. Spanish authorities and local media say that they have been radicalized in a local mosque in Ripol. The Imam of the mosque, Abdelbaki Es Satty, has been subject to numerous investigations. Yet, he managed to stay in Spain.
Many of the terrorist acts perpetrators are composed of second-or third-generation immigrants from Muslim countries who feel totally disconnected from both their home country and that of their parents or grandparents. They are always on a perpetual search for a sense of purpose and identity that unfortunately ISIS offers and thus they become potential threats for their own communities and their host nations. In total fairness, Europe has to learn a great deal from the successful American integration system. In the United States, immigrants tend to resemble born Americans over time. They can mix in U.S society and therefore many aspects of their lives improve. And in general, Americans have very positive attitudes towards immigration and immigrants. So, it is in the vital interest of many European countries to reconsider and improve their integration system to allow immigrants and especially the youngsters to fully and successfully integrate their societies.
So instead of sowing confusion and blaming the origin of the terrorist acts perpetrators, Europe should focus on the deep roots of radicalization ( that occurs in Europe) and find out the real reasons that encouraged those to embrace fully the criminal ideology of ISIS or any other terrorist organization. It’s better to stop spreading amalgams and wrongfully blaming immigrants and their origins for all the problems and threats that Europe is experiencing. Following the atrocities in Barcelona, backlash against Moroccans living in Spain started to erupt. This has to stop. The wise thing to do is to mobilize everybody regardless of their origin, religion, language or background against this global threat. Terrorism has no religion, no nation… In short no space in our universe.
Morocco is and will remain a true and credible security partner with many European countries. Morocco has set up a model for other neighboring nations to fight terrorism and extremist ideologies. So far it has been successful but certainly an international effective cooperation will put an end to this threat that does not menace only countries in north Africa and Sub Saharan Africa but Europe and even the United States.
In these tense moments, the world should focus on the universal values that all religions share in common (as the pursuit of happiness, the love of the family, tolerance of racial and religious differences and the promotion of peace.) The world should inspire young people to engage in interfaith dialogue. Blaming the others for their religion or origin will only backfire and serve the interest and goal of the world’s number one enemy: Terrorism.