Terrorists Returned: Morocco on Radar After Barcelona Attacks

Written by | Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

Spanish police on Monday (21 August) shot and killed the suspected driver behind Barcelona’s last week’s attack after confronting him in his hometown while he was wearing what seemed to be an explosive vest. The suspect, Younes Abouyaaqoub, was shot and killed in Subirats, around 56 km west of Barcelona. The Spanish authorities identified Abouyaaqoub, a 22-year-old Moroccan-born man, as the final suspect in the attack that claimed lives of 13 people.
The hunt for members of a Moroccan-led team responsible for the terror grabbed attention to the issue of returned jihadists across the Strait of Gibraltar. The returned fighters pose a major threat just on the continent’s doorsteps. It is estimated that up to 1,000 jihadists have been smuggled back to Morocco and Tunisia from the main battlefield of the Islamic State. About 300 are believed to have returned to Morocco from where 6 of 12 terrorists are believed to have originated.
At the height of the ISIS’ power, almost 1,600 Moroccans are thought to have travelled to Iraq and Syria, making them one of the most sizeable national groups, per capita, in the caliphate. It is estimated that about 800 of them have been killed. Due to the group’s shrinking territory in the Middle East, North Africa is now becoming to be seen as a stepping-stone for attacks on Europe.
The Moroccan authorities say that are well informed regarding their citizens who have left to join the ranks of the ISIS and have since returned. About 90 jihadists are held in prisons after coming back to Morocco but several dozens are believed to have returned back to their hometowns and villages. Rabat says that the authorities have prevented a few terror attacks in Morocco’s major cities but have limited means to stop their citizens pursuing operations outside the country.

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