Mohammed Masbah

Marilyn and Terry Diamond Junior Research Fellow at the Crown Center.


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The Limits of Morocco's Attempt to Comprehensively Counter Violent Extremism


Mohammed Masbah
Middle East Brief 118, May 2018


After terrorist attacks in 2003, Morocco launched an ambitious and wide-ranging strategy to counter violent extremism. Intended to both target existing terror groups and address the roots of radicalization, this comprehensive strategy sought to combine security measures with efforts to improve socioeconomic conditions and promote the state’s moderate interpretation of Islam. In this Brief, Mohammed Masbah assesses this strategy and finds that, while it has been largely successful at hindering jihadi groups from operating inside Morocco over the past 15 years, it failed to prevent hundreds of Moroccans from radicalizing and joining groups fighting abroad. Masbah argues that the domination of security agencies in implementing the strategy sidelined its non-security aspects, which also suffered from being too broad, unfocused, and lacking in complementarity. As a result, Morocco seems to have failed to make sufficient progress in achieving its broader objective of fighting poverty and social exclusion. The Brief concludes by discussing the implications of the assessment for the expected return of hundreds of Moroccans who fought in Syria and Iraq with ISIS.

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