By Ahmad Al-Arqam
Asharq Al-Awsat, Rabat – Investigations carried out by the Moroccan security services after the arrest of a terrorist cell that was made up of 17 members have uncovered the cell’s terrorist plans. These plans included restructuring the Al-Qaeda organization in Saudi Arabia following the Saudi security forces’ success in finding and arresting a number of its activists. The cell also planned to have the extremist Algerian Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC) rejoin Osama Bin Ladin’s organization and set up an Al-Qaeda branch in the Maghreb countries (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia) as a base for attacks to be launched on the countries that support US administration.
The investigations showed that Moroccan Mohamed Raha, the militant who helped the fighters infiltrate into Iraq across the Syrian border, insisted on concentrating on the importance of restructuring Al-Qaeda’s organization in Saudi Arabia and to creating Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb countries in the same way that Abu-Mus’ab al-Zarqawi’s has established Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Security sources said that Raha contacted Khaled Abu-Basir al-Jazairi, responsible for establishing Al-Qaeda in Europe with its supporters in Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Britain, Denmark, and Germany, to send urgent messages to Bin Ladin to draw up a comprehensive plan for implementing the intended operations.
The investigations also showed that Moroccan Khaled Azik was first asked to deliver the messages to Bin Ladin, especially after Azik revealed his success of previous missions such as the infiltration of some Arab fighters into Iraq via Syria, and seeing the wife of one Chechen leader from Istanbul to Damascus. However, at the last moment, Abu-Basir al-Jazairi expressed fears that the Iranian security authorities had already discovered Azik who was due to cross Iran’s borders through to Afghanistan. Instead, he decided to assign the task to Abu-al-Bara al-Sa’udi, a member of Al-Qaeda responsible for collecting funding for the fighters in Afghanistan.
The first message talked about the necessity for new Al-Qaeda elements in Saudi Arabia to replace others that had been captured by the Saudi security authorities. The same message revealed that these new elements were already in the country and were simply awaiting a response from Al-Qaeda’s leaders.
The second message talked about a plan to have the GSPC join Al-Qaeda officially, to pledge allegiance to Osama Bin Ladin, and unite the ranks of the religiously committed youths wishing to take part in "jihad"’ in the North African Arab countries under the GSPC’s banner.
The third message sought to establish an Al-Qaeda organization in the Arab Maghreb countries similar to that in Iraq and to unite the North Africans of Europe.
The security investigations showed that the methodology behind ensuring the plan’s success was based on attracting volunteers and sending them to Algeria to undergo military training in the GSPC’s camps. They would be trained in the use of weapons and the manufacturing of explosives. Furthermore, they would take part in the Algerian group’s operations against the Algerian security forces. Volunteers would be sent to Syria after having completed this training to set up a base on Syrian soil, and to enter Iraq to carry out suicide operations.
The same investigations also indicated that the Moroccan volunteers would return to Morocco after completing their military tasks in the Middle East and become sleeper cells waiting for instructions from Al-Qaeda to carry out terrorist acts targeting the security and intelligence centers, parliament, tourist establishments, naval and commercial ships, and foreign interests, especially those of Jews.
According to the plan, Al-Qaeda’s terrorist cell was planning to launch its operations in either Morocco or Algeria and if successful, would have called itself "Qaedat al-Jihad in the Arab Maghreb Countries".
A Moroccan security source said that common method of the extremist religious groups is to attract religiously committed youths and teach them the methods of terrorists. These start with meetings held in various places to watch videos and hear tapes talking about the suffering of Muslims and Arabs in Iraq, Palestine, Chechnya, and other countries. Once they have absorbed these ideas, the youths are sent to camps for quasi-military training and in the end, are used as human weapons to carry out the plans of the international terrorist organizations.