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06RABAT290 2006-02-17 17:36:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Rabat
Cable title:  

G-8 EMBASSIES MEET ON MOROCCO COUNTER TERRORISM

Tags:   PTER PREL KPAO SNAR MO 
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1. (C) Summary: Representatives from G-8 embassies in Rabat
discussed counter-terrorism efforts in Morocco at a Feb. 2
Counter-Terrorism Action Group (CTAG) meeting hosted by the
Russian Embassy in Russia's capacity as G-8 president.
Attendees spoke highly of GOM counter-terrorism efforts but
agreed the risk for terrorist incidents in Morocco remains
elevated. The group decided to invite a Moroccan official
(probably Minister of Interior Governor-Director of
International Cooperation Khaled Zerouali) to the next CTAG
meeting to discuss their ideas with him. The Russian host
noted that a Feb. 17 meeting of G-8 ministers in Moscow will
address the subject of extremism and asked that CTAG members
send him their thoughts after the meeting which he will
summarize and transmit to Moscow. End Summary.



2. (C) The Feb. 2 CTAG meeting was attended by
representatives from the United States, the UK, France,
Germany, Spain, Italy, Canada and Japan, in addition to the
Russian hosts. Russian Minister-Counselor Mikhail Golovanov
said the fight against terrorism will be a top priority for
Russia during its chairmanship of the G-8, and invited CTAG
members to exchange views on the measures each country is
taking in Morocco against extremism.



3. (C) Golovanov said he believes radicalism and extremism
are on the rise in Morocco in spite of many praiseworthy GOM
countermeasures in place. He said extremism remains "very
present" in the religious sphere and in political party
structures like the Islamist Party for Justice and
Development (PJD).



4. (C) DCM asked the group how G-8 countries can better
combat extremism through public diplomacy. French Polcouns
said in her view it is up to Moroccan religious and
governmental authorities to come up with a "doctrine" against
extremism, and that it is not appropriate for Western
countries to develop and propagate views on tolerance for
Moroccans. In her view King Mohammed VI and the Ministry of
Islamic Affairs have done a good job of this, but more needs
to be done.



5. (C) The Spanish representative agreed the GOM has made
laudable efforts in its fight against extremist ideology, but
said the GOM's biggest challenge is to distinguish the
legitimate conservatism that exists in the political sphere
from violent extremist elements.



6. (C) DCM noted that G-8 countries could assist Morocco's
counter-terrorism efforts by bolstering the GOM's border
control capacities. There is an intuitive link between drug
trafficking and illegal immigration and terrorist movement,
and assisting the GOM to better manage its borders could
improve the country's counter-terrorism capabilities.
Golovanov agreed, noting that even the supposedly "closed"
border with Algeria is regularly crossed by human and
contraband traffic. The Spanish representative said his
government is convinced of a strong link between terrorism
and drug/human trafficking.



7. (C) The Russian host noted the importance of anti-money
laundering legislation and said his government hopes the bill
- which has been drafted - passes to parliament soon. The
Spanish rep surmised the legislation is not stalled because
of opposition to the bill's anti-terrorism function, but
rather because it will have a broad-based impact on the
informal economy, which the GOM is taking the time to
consider carefully.



8. (C) The UK rep suggested that CTAG members press the GOM
to segregate extremist prisoners from the general prison
population to prevent "negative synergies" from arising in
the prisons. He noted this has been done in Egypt with some
success. CTAG members supported this idea but made no
specific proposals.



9. (C) DCM responded to a question from the Italian
representative by saying the USG has not changed its risk
assessment in Morocco since the May 2003 Casablanca bombings
and believes the risk of terrorist events in Morocco remains
high. The Sahel region, with its open borders and large
undergoverned spaces, offers potential refuge. The
involvement of Moroccans in terrorist acts abroad is also of
concern. Another serious concern comes from movement of
fighters from Morocco to Iraq, who pose not only a risk to
that country but also to Morocco when they return. DCM said
the GOM is sensitized to these risks and is generally doing a
good job with its CT efforts, but has also been somewhat
lucky in avoiding incidents thus far. The Russian rep said
he shared the USG view on the elevated risk and thanked DCM
for his assessment.



10. (C) Golovanov proposed the group invite Khaled Zerouali,
MOI Governor-Director of International Cooperation, to their
next meeting, and participants agreed this would be useful.
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Riley