Sand dune in Morocco with jeep at top

From Terror to Counterterror in North Africa

Over the past several months, the number of jihadi recruits for the Islamic State from North Africa, particularly Morocco, has begun to diminish, thanks to the implementation of rigorous security measures. But, if the threat is to be eliminated entirely, there is much more work to do.

FEZ – Over the past several months, an encouraging trend has begun to emerge in North Africa: the number of jihadi recruits for Daesh (the pejorative Arabic acronym for the “Islamic State”), particularly from Morocco, has begun to diminish, owing largely to the implementation of rigorous security measures. But, if the threat is to be eliminated entirely, much more work needs to be done.

The recent downward trend follows an alarming spike in recruitment by Daesh from the region. In June 2014, a staggering 1,193 Moroccans were reportedly fighting in Syria and Iraq, according to the General Director of Studies and Documentation (DGED) Mohamed Yassine El Mansouri. An April 2015 report by the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee revealed that Moroccans and Tunisians constitute the largest foreign contingent of jihadists in Iraq and Syria.

A key component of Daesh’s appeal is economic. A jihadist earns, on average, $1,400 per month – a substantial sum for young men, often from poor families, who are unemployed or doing odd jobs at home for some $150 a month. Given that many Moroccan jihadists have only a primary-level education, with only 10% holding a university degree, opportunities for economic advancement at home seem limited. Of course, there are also personal factors, though religion seems to come second to visions of adventure and bravery in battle.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.


Log in;
  1. Patrick Kovarik/Getty Images

    The Summit of Climate Hopes

    Presidents, prime ministers, and policymakers gather in Paris today for the One Planet Summit. But with no senior US representative attending, is the 2015 Paris climate agreement still viable?

  2. Trump greets his supporters The Washington Post/Getty Images

    Populist Plutocracy and the Future of America

    • In the first year of his presidency, Donald Trump has consistently sold out the blue-collar, socially conservative whites who brought him to power, while pursuing policies to enrich his fellow plutocrats. 

    • Sooner or later, Trump's core supporters will wake up to this fact, so it is worth asking how far he might go to keep them on his side.
  3. Agents are bidding on at the auction of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi' Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

    The Man Who Didn’t Save the World

    A Saudi prince has been revealed to be the buyer of Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi," for which he spent $450.3 million. Had he given the money to the poor, as the subject of the painting instructed another rich man, he could have restored eyesight to nine million people, or enabled 13 million families to grow 50% more food.

  4.  An inside view of the 'AknRobotics' Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    Two Myths About Automation

    While many people believe that technological progress and job destruction are accelerating dramatically, there is no evidence of either trend. In reality, total factor productivity, the best summary measure of the pace of technical change, has been stagnating since 2005 in the US and across the advanced-country world.

  5. A student shows a combo pictures of three dictators, Austrian born Hitler, Castro and Stalin with Viktor Orban Attila Kisbenedek/Getty Images

    The Hungarian Government’s Failed Campaign of Lies

    The Hungarian government has released the results of its "national consultation" on what it calls the "Soros Plan" to flood the country with Muslim migrants and refugees. But no such plan exists, only a taxpayer-funded propaganda campaign to help a corrupt administration deflect attention from its failure to fulfill Hungarians’ aspirations.

  6. Project Syndicate

    DEBATE: Should the Eurozone Impose Fiscal Union?

    French President Emmanuel Macron wants European leaders to appoint a eurozone finance minister as a way to ensure the single currency's long-term viability. But would it work, and, more fundamentally, is it necessary?

  7. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now