Morocco shared sensitive intelligence with Sri Lanka that helped Colombo identify the nine bombers and their handlers in the Islamic State, informed sources have indicated. The information was also shared with India as New Delhi and Morocco have a strong counter-terror cooperation.
This was done within 48 hours of the Easter Sunday attacks that killed nearly 360 people in the island nation.
The Islamic State on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the horrific bombings, which also killed 10 Indians, with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe warning that the Indian Embassy was also a “possible target”.
Sri Lankan authorities have talked about “foreign links” of the perpetrators and have said that “foreign agencies” have shared useful information with them.
Morocco, a North African country that follows a moderate strand of Islam, has one of the successful records of counter-terrorism and de-radicalization in the Islamic world.
In an interview in October, Abdelhak Khiame, Head of Morocco’s Central Bureau of Legal Investigation (BCIJ), said Moroccan security services dismantled “183 terrorist cells” in the country that were in the various stages of planning “361 devastating terrorist projects” in the kingdom.
More than 3,000 people, including 292 individuals with previous criminal record, have been arrested by Moroccan authorities over the past decade.
India and Morocco have a strong and multi-dimensional agreement on counter-terrorism cooperation.
During a visit to New Delhi last year. Moroccan Justice Minister Mohamed Auajjar had said in an interview to the Economic Times that “Morocco has a well-established school of counter-terrorism, which is globally recognised. We have counter-terror cooperation including bilateral legal arrangements with major countries to fight terror. Given the expansion in ties with India and mutual interest, we decided to sign these treaties with Delhi, taking our counter-terror partnership to the next level”.
The Minister further said, echoing the views of King Mohammed VI. that Islam was against terrorism and “a wrong interpretation of jihad that is being propagated, instead of a jihad against poverty”.
The Minister said “Morocco’s de-radicalization initiatives have been lauded by the international community. We pursue a multi-dimensional counter-terror strategy that has three distinct stands: intelligence gathering, socio-economic reforms, and reform of religious schools”.
Morocco has shared important intelligence and counter-terrorism information in the past with “friendly countries” like France, Spain and Belgium and with its growing ties with India there have been 10 ministerial visits in the past year – there is enhanced cooperation on this front between New Delhi and Rabat.