On Tuesday, January 8, Moroccan security forces arrested three suspected Islamic State (IS) members in the towns of Nador and Driouch (Oriental region). According to local sources, the suspects were planning to carry out a terrorist attack in Morocco. A heightened security presence is expected in Oriental region in the coming days. Further counterterrorism raids are possible throughout the country in the near term.
While no major attacks have occurred in Morocco recently, authorities remain on high alert for militant activity. Several attacks have been successful in the past decade, notably a 2011 bombing at a café in Marrakesh that killed 17 people. Over 150 terrorist cells have been dismantled in Morocco since 2002; in 2017, the Moroccan Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations (BCIJ) dismantled nine terror cells and neutralized some 186 suspected militants. It is estimated that over 1600 Moroccans have traveled to fight with IS in Syria and Iraq, including 400 who died in combat.
Due to the significant terrorist threat, individuals in Morocco are advised to report any suspicious objects or behavior to the authorities and to exercise caution at all times, particularly when visiting sites deemed particularly likely to be targeted in an attack (e.g. public transportation, train stations, ports, airports, public or government buildings, embassies or consulates, international organizations, schools and universities, religious sites, markets, hotels and restaurants frequented by foreigners/Westerners, festivals, etc.), especially in major cities such as Marrakesh, Rabat, and Casablanca.
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