/ 9 July 2007

Morocco warned of terror attacks

The European Union has warned Morocco of the ”almost certain probability” of terrorist attacks in the North African country and urged more security at Western embassies and tourism sites, a newspaper said on Monday.

Al Ahdath al Maghribia daily, usually well-informed in domestic security matters, said the European Commission’s security department sent a report to Rabat alerting it to the threat.

”The European Union’s report mentioned the almost certain probability of terrorist strikes against Morocco and named the sites to be targeted by terrorists,” the Arabic-language newspaper said.

”It urged Morocco to step up surveillance in the light of the significance of the information details,” it added.

The newspaper also reported that ”France confirmed preparations by terrorists to carry out attacks in Algeria and Morocco have reached an advanced stage”.

The subject was also at the heart of discussions between Israeli and Moroccan foreign ministers and top intelligence chiefs in Paris last week, the newspaper reported.

It said Morocco had received Israeli intelligence information on the movement of jihadists and their attempts to infiltrate Morocco from Algeria and Mauritania.

But in Jerusalem, Ido Aharoni, aide to Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, said: ”I know of no such warning being relayed during the foreign minister’s meeting with her Moroccan counterpart.”

On Friday, Morocco raised the security alert level to the highest rating of ”maximum”, suggesting a terror strike was imminent.

Morocco’s Interior Ministry said it had obtained intelligence information on the threat in recent days but gave no details.

Government officials in Rabat were not immediately available to comment on Monday’s report.

The region has been on alert since al-Qaeda’s affiliate in North Africa, the al-Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb which is based in Algeria, threatened to step up its war against ”corrupt” governments in the region and their Western Allies.

Al-Qaeda claimed attacks in Algeria in April, including three in Algiers on April 11 when 30 people were killed.

Three days later, two suicide bombers detonated explosive belts outside United States diplomatic facilities on Casablanca, killing only themselves.

The Rabat government at the time dismissed local media speculation of a link between attacks in Algiers and the death of the suicide bombers in Casablanca.

In Algiers, Frances Townsend, homeland security adviser to US President George Bush, discussed counterterrorism cooperation in a meeting wtih Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci on Sunday on a visit to the north African country, state-owned newspaper El Moudjahid reported. – Reuters