The 21st Century Phenomenon


On 11/11/2005 the Moroccan police arrested a network of 17 people suspected of recruiting volunteers to the war against USA in Iraq.  The group was connected to Ansar al Islam and Al Qaeda in Iraq led by Abu Musab al Zarqawi.

The Moroccan network was led by Khaled Azig and Mohamed Raha – Khaled Azig, a Moroccan national, who studied theology in Syria, and Mohamed Raha, a Belgian of Moroccan origin. Khaled Azig returned to Moroccoin 06/2005, and arrested immediately. 

While being in Damascus Khaled Azig established contact with Khalid Salibi aka Abu Zaim, Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s principal contact man in Damascus, who was in charge on the logistic of Ansar al Islam and Al Qaeda in Iraq, in Syria. Khaled Azig provided Khalid Salibi with a list of many of the Moroccan students in Madrassas and theological seminars in Damascus. The students were then approached by recruiters of Ansar al Islam. Indeed, most of the Moroccan network’s members were recruited outside Morocco.

Khaled Azig and his associate Khaled Abu-Basir, a Belgian citizen from Algerian descent, also helped to recruit Moroccan students in Turkey and in his voyages to Turkey Khaled Azig served as well as a currier for al Qaeda. He revealed in his interrogation that some of the letters were written in Osama Bin Laden’s own handwriting. The Istanbul center requested couriers from Morocco to carry Bin Laden’s letters to Al Qaeda terror chiefs in Saudi Arabia. Since Khaled Azig frequently called on the Chechens in Istanbul he came under the supervision of the Turkish security service which shared the Information with the American CIA, the Moroccan services and the Belgian authorities.

Mohamed Raha arrived to Morocco, on 09/29/2009, at the head of a group of terrorists who had completed their training in Iraq and Syria. The group passed first through Istanbul where they were given funds for activating the Moroccan network and mounting terrorist attacks. The group was caught in the airport by the Moroccan authorities.

Two members of the group, who run the Moroccan side of the network, Ibrahim Binshakrun and Muhammad Mazuz, were former Guantanamo inmates, who were repatriated to Morocco along with Abdallah Tabarak, on 08/01/2004, and released from Moroccan jail in 12/2004.

Few days later, on 11/14/2005, a third former Guantanamo inmate, Ridwan Shakkuri, was arrested too for being a member of the group.

This network had been given several missions. Its bombers were told to carry out suicide attacks on USA warships based at Essaouira (Mogador) on Morocco’s Atlantic coast south of Casablanca, opposite the Portuguese Madeira Islands. In Agadir, they were to target luxury hotels hosting American, Israeli and British tourists.

In Tangiers – the casino was their objective. In Rabat, suicide bombers were ordered to blow up the Moroccan parliament during a well-attended session. In Casablanca, they were to have blown up the US consulate and the Jewish synagogue when it was filled with worshippers. This network’s field of operation included also Mauritania and Tunisia. The Moroccan network was an integral part of rings in Belgium, Italy and Spain.

* Note – It is almost certain that Mohamed Raha did some basic checks whether his arrival to Morocco was secure. It is most likely that without a green light from Khaled Azig, already in custody in Morocco, Mohamed Raha would not dare to travel to Morocco with his group. The inevitable conclusion is that since his arrest Khaled Azig functioned, actually, as a double agent for the Moroccan security Service.  

* On 12/27/2005 the Moroccan police arrested yet another group of 11 suspects, who trained themselves in the remote region of the borders between Algiers, Morocco and Mali to carry out terror attacks in Morocco. The group, according to the Moroccan intelligence, had “international ties” (see also – Lemgheiti-Raid).


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