Foreign groups and organizations that are determined by the Secretary of State in the USA (in accordance with section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) as amended), are termed Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Labeling and analyzing identified FTOs is crucial to anticipating, managing, and resolving terrorist activities. Designation of a group as an FTO can curb their ability to function effectively, a form of national “peer pressure”. One such FTO is the
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Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM), or as pronounced in Moroccan, Groupe Islamique Combattant Morrocain (GICM).
The founding philosophy appears to have a two-pronged approach; commitment to the creation of an Islamic State in Morocco; and subjugating the west. This Moroccan organization emerged in the 1990s from the split of another domestic FTO: Shabiba Islamiya. The exact date of establishment of the organization is unknown. Most members appear to be mujahadin who had fought in the Soviet-Afghan war.
Members tend to target Moroccan and Spanish citizens. Dense, urban, central areas, such as Madrid (2007 attack) and Casablanca (2003 attack), are target characteristics. Hence, public places and public transport are primary target locations.
Suicide bombing appears to be the preferred modus operandi. Working with other extremist groups in North Africa, GICM also traffic in weapons and trafficking of falsified documents.
Claims have been made of GICM sleeper cells in Britain, Belgium, France, Italy, and Canada (Keating, 2004). Ultimately, their strength is unknown (Federation of American Scientists [FAS], 2007). Bases of operation in Afghanistan; Belgium; Denmark; Egypt; France; Morocco; Spain; Turkey; and the United Kingdom are linked to al-Qaeda as allies and the two groups share members (MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base, 2007).
GCIM aims to create Islamic State in Morocco and supports al Qaeda’s war against the West. Actively a jihadi movement, it is evident that the group has international goals. Consequently, the U.S. has frozen the organization’s assets under EO 13224 (as determined by the USA.
Profile of the organization
Overall the group remains a mystery to investigators. Emerging in the early 1990s, no definitive leader; although recently Mohamed Guerbouzi was considered to be the leader. He is being extradited from the UK to Morocco to serve a 20-year jail sentence.
Analysis of attacks
On March 11, 2004, 200 people were killed and 1 500 injured when 10 suicide bombers triggered explosions in the metro trains during Madrid’s peak hour.
Statements or propaganda released by the group
Communiqués criticizing the Moroccan government have been given. Active support of al-Qaeda’s terrorist aims against the west implicitly indicates their intentions as they rarely actually release statements or propaganda.
Following World War II it was clear to the USA government that military and public code breakers and code makers needed to be integrated in order to maintain the nation’s security in a coordinated manner (National Security Agency [NSA], 2007). Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, 1978 (FISA), ensured a court order was needed to eavesdrop on USA citizens. In 2006, a former NSA director, Bobby Ray Inman, criticized the Bush administration for continuing to plant domestic wiretaps without warrants (Berkowitz & Goodman, 1991). Inman emphasized that he would have ignored this Act for an emergency short-term crisis, such as 9/11. However, the five-year continuing practice by the NSA was questionable.
Although no bases or sleeper cells appear to be in the USA, given the connections with al-Qaida there should be a concern as to how to monitor terrorist activity domestically with minimal infringement of citizen rights, needs, and expectations. Ongoing public debate and discourse drawing on the practices and insights of other nations are necessary.
Berkowitz, F. & Goodman, D. (1991)/ Impediments to effective counterintelligence and counterterrorism. Conference on Counterintelligence: Reform for a Critical National Capability, McCormick Tribune Foundation and Institute of World Politics, Wheaton, Illinois.
Federal American Scientists [FAS] (2007) Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM). Web.
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Keating, B. (2004) In the Spotlight: Moroccan Combatant Group (GICM). Web.
MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base (2007) Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group. Web.
National Security Agency (NSA) (2007). Web.