Saturday, July 07, 2007

Morocco on "maximum" terror alert.

According to Reuters, Morocco has raised its terrorism threat level to "maximum", the highest category indicating a radical Islamist attack is expected imminently, the Interior Ministry said in a statement on Friday.

The decision was announced after a meeting of chiefs of police, intelligence and paramilitary forces in the capital Rabat.

Analysts and diplomats said recent visits to Morocco by top European and U.S security officials underscored the imminence of the threat as well as the role the North African kingdom was playing in the U.S.-declared global fight against terrorism.

They pointed to repeated al Qaeda threats to hit Morocco and other North African states, citing the appearance on video early this week of Ayman al-Zawahri, al Qaeda's number two, to urge the overthrow of what he called "corrupt" Muslim governments.

"This alert level indicates a serious threat of terrorist action and requires the extreme mobilisation of the security organs," the ministry said, describing the threat in terms Moroccan officials routinely apply to radical Islamists.

It cited "reliable intelligence information" but gave no details about any specific attack threat.

One security analyst said: "I suspect the authorities made an arrest and obtained precise information. That information could have been corroborated by intelligence coming from Western allies of Morocco".

A senior European diplomat said the most widespread speculation among his colleagues was Moroccan authorities feared the possibility of a suicide bomb attack at the peak of the summer tourist season.

"We have no precise information on that but it is the scenario the most talked about by foreign diplomats here," he said.


The government hopes tourism will be a key growth sector, setting a target of 10 million tourists by 2010 from 6.5 million currently to create jobs and boost foreign currency earnings.

Morocco has been on high alert since 2003 when suicide bombings killed 45 people in Casablanca. It boosted security this year after seven suicide bombers attacked in Casablanca in March and April, killing themselves and a police officer.

"It is the first time Moroccan authorities have used clear language and precise words about the terrorist threat," said leading political analyst Miloud Belkadi.

Belkadi believed Western security officials, including FBI head Robert Mueller, might have passed details to Morocco about an imminent attack during their recent trips.

"These visits and the language of Al Qaeda's Zawahri were indicating something serious may happen soon here," he said.

The ministry urged Moroccans to be more vigilant and support the country's efforts against the threat of terrorism, adding more police were being deployed to step up surveillance.

It warned that the security threat against the country would not be short-lived.

"In view of the long-term nature of the threat and the requirements of the struggle against terrorism, the operational capabilities of security forces have been reinforced as part of a three-year plan to upgrade human resources and equipment of the security services," the ministry added.



Anonymous said...

Unfortunately terrorism is increasing in our century and it's very difficult to struggle with it, because with progress new equipment appears, and damage can be very big. But we must do our best to prevent terror attacks and save people's life.

lady macleod said...

It will be the people of Morocco that do not allow this cancer of terrorism to take root here. They can not flourish in a country that will not tolerate violence against its own people. I am so encouraged by the fact it was "regular" citizens that aided in the take down of terrorists in Casablanca. It makes me feel safer. In my little neighborhood in the Oudayas there is a great deal of being looked after by our neighbors (of course that means they also know all of our business, but I find that a fair trade off)