Mohammed Masbah

Moroccan Foreign Fighters

Evolution of the Phenomenon, Promotive Factors, and the Limits of Hardline Policies

SWP Comment 2015/C 46, October 2015, 8 Pages


Morocco, Syria

With a contingent of around 1,500 fighters, Morocco is considered one of the main exporters of foreign fighters to Syria. Until 2014, Moroccan authorities, who were content to see their own jihadis leave and add to the pressure on Bashar al-Assad, mostly turned a blind eye to networks of recruitment. Since the dramatic rise of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, concern over local repercussions and the return of war-hardened radicals has prompted Rabat to adopt a hardline, security-oriented approach instead. Repression, however, is unlikely to uproot these networks. Instead, a comprehensive strategy for de-radicalization should aim to rehabilitate and reintegrate returning fighters, and use their example to dissuade others from violent militancy.

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