Vice President of Tactical Intelligence Scott Stewart discusses the April 28 bombing of a cafe in Marrakech and examines the wider jihadist threat in Morocco.
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On April 28, there was an attack against the Argana cafe in Marrakech, Morocco. The attack has apparently killed at least 14 people and injured 20 others. The cafe is located in Marrakech's main square and is a very popular tourist destination, as is the square itself. Indeed, some of our analysts have eaten there several times. The attack is part of a pattern that we've been watching in Morocco for several years now, where we'll have an attack, and then the government will crack down on jihadists in the country. And then it takes the jihadists a while to retool and then conduct other attacks or prepare for attacks. In 2003, jihadists in Morocco sent out 14 suicide bombers against different targets in Casablanca. At that time, they targeted not only popular restaurants that catered to Westerners, but also embassies and Jewish centers. So over the years, we have come to see this sort of low-level bombing using smaller devices and frequently suicide operatives in Morocco. But the high casualty count was due to the fact that it had been taken into the densely packed cafe. Right now it appears that the device did have added shrapnel, which would help a smaller device cause more casualties and create a higher casualty and death toll. However, this sort of attack really is fairly simple, and it's something that's well within the capabilities of the militants in Morocco. So it's really not any evidence of a new trend or any new capability in that country by the jihadists. It's really more of a continuation of the threat that's existed there since the early 2000s. Morocco does have a large population, and there is also quite a bit of poverty there. So the unemployed, poor, male population in Morocco is really a fertile breeding ground for the jihadists and a fertile recruiting ground. Morocco's demographics and the ideology of jihadism, when they combine, indicate to us that there will continue to be a low-level jihadist threat in Morocco for some time to come.
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