Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group

Formed1998
DisbandedGroup is active.
First AttackMay 16, 2003: Bombings in the Moroccan city of Casablanca, targeting Western and Israeli targets, are carried out by Salafia Jihadia, a GICM subgroup later affiliated with al-Qaeda (45 killed, 100+ injured).[1]
UpdatedAugust 6, 2012

Narrative Summary

The Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM) is a Sunni Islamist militant group that seeks to install a fundamentalist Islamist government in Morocco. The GICM acronym stems from the French translation of the group's name, Groupe Islamique Combattante Marocain. The origins of the organization are found in 1993, when veterans of the mujahideen against the Soviets in Afghanistan returned to Morocco, seeking similar change and effective mobilization as the Taliban had done.[2] Prior to the creation of the GICM, these former mujahideen sympathizers & fighters formed Harakat al-Islamiya al-Maghrebiya al-Mukatila (HASM). Contrary to many later militant organizations in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM, for example), HASM was focused solely on instigating violence and political change domestically. They sought to displace Moroccan King Hussein and install an Islamic government in his place.

In the mid-1990s, HASM split into two separate groups, one of whom became GICM. The group remained relatively invisible on the world stage until May 2003, when operatives of GICM subgroup Salafia Jihadia carried out several bombings in Casablanca, leaving 33 civilians dead and more than 100 injured.[3] Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi may have been involved in the planning of the bombings, though a formal link between the two has never been established. Salafia Jihadia was also responsible for the 2004 Madrid train bombings.[4]

GICM has strong ties to both Salafia Jihadia and al-Qaeda, particularly in regards to their logistical support, training, and integration of operatives into local communities. Criminal activity is the central method of GICM's financial support, through the falsification of documents, drug trade, and gunrunning.[5] The group has also counterfeited currency, and has extensive drug trade activities outside of Morocco, specifically in North Africa and Europe.[6] The relationship with AQIM stems from the group's need for support after a wave of arrests largely weakened GICM in the mid-2000s.[7]

According to the US State Department's 2008 Country Reports on Terrorism, GICM had "disintegrated" after the arrest of many of its members and leaders. Though there was no evidence that the group was still recruiting, the State Department said that former members were still a threat. [8]These formermembers have joined other groups similar to GICM.[9] One possible indication of the weakness of GICM, as of 2012, is that affiliated or rival groups in Morocco have announced mergers or affiliations to al-Qaeda (LIFG, Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat), but al-Qaeda has not affiliated with GICM in nearly a decade.

Leadership

As of 2009, it was not clear whether GICM had one chief leader.[10] In 2010, the US Department of State said that most of GICM's leadership had been imprisoned or killed.[11]

  1. Hassan Haski (Unknown to Unknown): Haski was considered one of the masterminds of the Madrid train bombings. He was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to 10 years in prison for his involvement in the bombing.[12]
  2. Mohamed al-Guerbouzi (suspected) (Unknown to Present): al-Guerbouzi is suspected of becoming leader of the organization beginning in 2002 but has denied any relationship with the group. He lives in London and was convicted by Morocco, in absentia, for his role in the 2003 Casablanca bombing. He is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence.[13]
  3. Abdelkarim el-Mejjati (Unknown to 2004): el-Mejjati was one of the founding leaders of the group. He later became a leader of Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, and was killed in 2004.[14]

Ideology & Goals

The goal of GICM is to establish an Islamic State in Morocco by overthrowing the current government.[15] The group follows a Salafist-Islamist ideology, and was often affiliated with the Salafia Jihadia organization in Morocco during the late-1990s and early 2000s.

Size Estimates

There are no reputable or precise estimates of GICM's size at any point since the group's inception. Due to numerous arrests and members' strong ties to other organizations, group membership has never been steady at a certain size.[16]

Designated/Listed

Resources

Much of GICM's fundraising comes from its involvement in criminal activities abroad. These include document forgery, drug trade, and weapons smuggling throughout North Africa and Europe.[17] Logistically, the group has ties to AQIM and Salafia Jihadia in Morocco.

Geographical Locations

The group is based in Morocco, but has cells or affiliates in Afghanistan, Egypt, Belgium, Denmark, France, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.[18]

GICM used to have strong control over its sleeper cells in Europe. Due to recent successful counterterrorist operations, both in Morocco, Iraq and Europe, some analysts believe that these cells have become more autonomous and are now at risk of being absorbed by stronger North African groups such as AQIM.[19]

Targets & Tactics

GICM utilizes suicide bombings and IED attacks against Western and Israeli targets to achieve their goals. The group is also involved in gun and drug trade activity, though these serve more as a source of financial support than as a violent tactic.

Political Activities

GICM publishes a magazine entitled 'Sada al-Maghrabi' (Reign of Morocco).[20] The group does not have a political affiliation or agenda outside of seeking to displace the Moroccan king and install an Islamic fundamentalist government.

Major Attacks

  1. May 16, 2003: 14 suicide bombers from GICM subgroup Salafia Jihadia simultaneously detonated bombs around Casablanca, targeting Western and Israeli civilians and establishments. 2 bombers were arrested prior to their attempted detonations. (45 killed, 100+ wounded).[21]
  2. March 11, 2004: The group aided and had strong links to the Salafia Jihadi members responsible for train bombings in Madrid, Spain. The bombers also had strong ties to al-Qaeda. The bombs were stored in 13 separate pieces of luggage. 3 of them were found and detonated safely by damage control teams. (191 killed, 2050 wounded).[22]

Relationships with Other Groups

Like many other smaller terrorist groups in the region, GICM was formed out of HASM in the mid-1990s, and operates autonomously of other small groups in North Africa. Salafia Jihadia has since become a larger ideological movement, born mainly out of Saudi Arabic and the Gulf region.[23]

The group supports al-Qaeda's efforts. Unlike the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, however, GICM has not merged directly with al-Qaeda.[24]


References

  1. ^ Agence France-Presse (8 April 2008). "WORLD BRIEFING". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A05E5DE103EF93BA35757C0A96E9C8B63. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
  2. ^ "Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group." Institute for the Study of Violent Groups. http://vkb.isvg.org/Wiki/Groups/Moroccan_Islamic_Combatant_Group_(GICM). Accessed August 6, 2012.
  3. ^ Agence France-Presse (8 April 2008). "WORLD BRIEFING". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A05E5DE103EF93BA35757C0A96E9C8B63. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
  4. ^ Jésus, Carlos. "The Current State of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group." Combating Terrorism Center. March 15, 2009. http://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/the-current-state-of-the-moroccan-islamic-combatant-group. Accessed August 6, 2012.
  5. ^ Jésus, Carlos. "The Current State of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group." Combating Terrorism Center. March 15, 2009. http://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/the-current-state-of-the-moroccan-islamic-combatant-group. Accessed August 6, 2012.
  6. ^ "Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group." Institute for the Study of Violent Groups. http://vkb.isvg.org/Wiki/Groups/Moroccan_Islamic_Combatant_Group_(GICM). Accessed August 6, 2012.
  7. ^ "Morocco Protests Touch on Democracy and Terrorism." The New York Times. May 2, 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/02/world/africa/02morocco.html. Accessed August 6, 2012.
  8. ^ "Chapter 6 -- Terrorist Organizations." U.S. Department of State. 30 Apr. 2008. Web. 27 Aug. 2011. http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/2007/103714.htm.
  9. ^ Jesus, Carlos E. "The Current State of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group." Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. 15 May 2009. Web. 23 Aug. 2011. from http://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/the-current-state-of-the-moroccan-islamic-combatant-group
  10. ^ Jesus, Carlos E. "The Current State of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group." Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. 15 May 2009. Web. 23 Aug. 2011. from http://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/the-current-state-of-the-moroccan-islamic-combatant-group
  11. ^ Arieff, Alexis. "Morocco: Current Issues." United States Congressional Research Service, 11 July 2011. Web. 24 Aug. 2011. http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RS21579.pdf.
  12. ^ "Country Reports on Terrorism 2009 Middle East and North Africa Overview." U.S. Department of State. Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrosim, 5 Aug. 2010. Web. 24 Aug. 2011. http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/2009/140886.htm.
  13. ^ Jesus, Carlos E. "The Current State of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group." Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. 15 May 2009. http://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/the-current-state-of-the-moroccan-islamic-combatant-group. August 6, 2012.
  14. ^ Jésus, Carlos. "The Current State of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group." Combating Terrorism Center. March 15, 2009. http://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/the-current-state-of-the-moroccan-islamic-combatant-group. Accessed August 6, 2012.
  15. ^ Jesus, Carlos E. "The Current State of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group." Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. May 15, 2009. http://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/the-current-state-of-the-moroccan-islamic-combatant-group. Accessed August 6, 2012.
  16. ^ Jesus, Carlos E. "The Current State of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group." Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. May 15, 2009. http://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/the-current-state-of-the-moroccan-islamic-combatant-group. Accessed August 6, 2012.
  17. ^ Jesus, Carlos E. "The Current State of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group." Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. May 15, 2009. http://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/the-current-state-of-the-moroccan-islamic-combatant-group. Accessed August 6, 2012.
  18. ^ "Terrorist Organization Profile: Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group." National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. University of Maryland. http://www.start.umd.edu/start/data_collections/tops/terrorist_organization_profile.asp?id=4341. Accessed August 6, 2012.
  19. ^ Jesus, Carlos E. "The Current State of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group." Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. May 15, 2009. http://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/the-current-state-of-the-moroccan-islamic-combatant-group. Accessed August 6, 2012.
  20. ^ Jesus, Carlos E. "The Current State of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group." Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. May 15, 2009. http://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/the-current-state-of-the-moroccan-islamic-combatant-group. Accessed August 6, 2012.
  21. ^ Goodman, Al. "2 Seized over Casablanca Bombings - CNN." CNN. November3, 2006. http://articles.cnn.com/2006-11-03/world/spain.arrests_1_casablanca-bombings-suicide-bombers-moroccan-islamic-combatant-group?_s. Accessed August 6, 2012.
  22. ^ Jesus, Carlos E. "The Current State of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group." Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. May 15, 2009. http://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/the-current-state-of-the-moroccan-islamic-combatant-group. Accessed August 6, 2012.
  23. ^ "Terrorist Organization Profile: Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group." National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. University of Maryland. http://www.start.umd.edu/start/data_collections/tops/terrorist_organization_profile.asp?id=4341. Accessed August 6, 2012.
  24. ^ Jesus, Carlos E. "The Current State of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group." Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. 15 May 2009. Web. 23 Aug. 2011. from http://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/the-current-state-of-the-moroccan-islamic-combatant-group

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