4 Threat Matrix: More on Ansar al Sharia in Morocco

Written by Thomas Joscelyn on January 3, 2013 1:45 PM to 4 Threat Matrix

Available online at: http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2013/01/more_on_ansar_al_sharia_in_mor.php

In previous posts, I wrote about an Ansar al Sharia terrorist cell that was broken up by Moroccan authorities in October of last year. See here and here.

Now Magharebia has added another detail about what may be the same Ansar al Sharia cell in Morocco in a recent article [emphasis added]:

Ever since an al-Qaeda cell in Morocco was dismantled last month, Interior Minister Mohand Laenser has repeatedly underlined that security services needed to be hyper-vigilant.

The group allegedly recruited young Moroccans to join al-Qaeda and the Movement for Tawhid and Jihad (MUJAO) in northern Mali.

In another incident, members of a new Ansar al-Sharia offshoot group were arrested last month for allegedly plotting large-scale terrorist strikes across Morocco.

"This cell, which was seeking to obtain financial and military support from AQIM, was planning attacks on sensitive buildings, security headquarters and tourist sites," he said.

Although this account says the cell was "arrested last month," it sounds like the same cell that was disrupted in late October/early November. Perhaps it is a new cell. Or perhaps additional members of the same cell were arrested in December.

In any event, the Moroccan Interior Minister says this Ansar al Sharia cell was "seeking to obtain financial and military support from AQIM." That's hardly surprising.

As I pointed out in the previous two posts, the Moroccans said that an Ansar al Sharia cell was led by a jihadist ideologue affiliated with al Qaeda's websites, had adopted al Qaeda's ideology, and had "established lines of communication with terrorist groups supporting al Qaeda." In addition, the Moroccan press reported that the cell did "not hide their sympathy for extremist movements around the world, first among them al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghre[b]."