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Viewing cable 07RABAT1229, APHSCT TOWNSEND'S VISIT TO MOROCCO

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07RABAT1229 2007-07-31 15:03 2010-12-03 21:09 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Rabat
VZCZCXRO7080
PP RUEHBC RUEHDBU RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHLH RUEHPW RUEHROV
DE RUEHRB #1229/01 2121536
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 311536Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY RABAT
TO RHEHAAA/THE WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
INFO RUCNISL/ISLAMIC COLLECTIVE
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 3341
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 5741
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 4693
RUEHCL/AMCONSUL CASABLANCA 3267
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7061
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 RABAT 001229 

SIPDIS 

NOFORN 
SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/10/2027 
TAGS: PTER PREL KISL MO IZ XF XA
SUBJECT: APHSCT TOWNSEND'S VISIT TO MOROCCO 

Classified by Ambassador Thomas Riley for reasons 1.4 (b) and 
(d). 

1. (S/NF) Summary: During her July 6-8 visit to Morocco, 
Frances Fragos Townsend, Assistant to the President for 
Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, met with the chiefs 
of Morocco's intelligence service, the internal security 
service, the chief of the national police, the Minister of 
Interior, and his deputy, a senior royal advisor. Townsend 
thanked her hosts for Morocco's excellent cooperation in the 
global war on terrorism, including significant efforts to 
shut down the foreign fighter pipeline to Iraq. The 
Moroccans affirmed that they highly value security 
cooperation and support from the USG as they continue to 
confront a substantial and growing terror threat that extends 
across North Africa and the Sahel. Townsend also visited 
the sites of twin suicide bombings near the U.S. 
Consulate-General and the (private) American Language Center 
and received a briefing on efforts to augment security for 
U.S. buildings and personnel in the city. End summary. 

2. (S/NF) Frances Fragos Townsend, Assistant to the President 
for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, was hosted for a 
July 7 working lunch in Rabat by Yassine Mansouri, Chief of 
the External Studies Directorate General (DGED), Morocco's 
premier intelligence agency. Joining the lunch were 
Abdelatif Hammouchi, Director-General for Territorial 
Surveillance (DGST), which has the lead on domestic 
counterterrorism operations, and Charki Draiss, Chief of the 
National Police force (DGSN). Townsend was accompanied by 
Ambassador Riley, Adnan Kifayat and John Pearson of the NSC 
staff, and Emboffs. 

3. (S/NF) Welcoming Townsend to Morocco, DGED Chief Mansouri 
affirmed that the country has enjoyed a long-standing and 
very cooperative security relationship with the USG, to the 
benefit of both sides. Townsend expressed U.S. satisfaction 
with the security relationship and particular gratitude for 
Morocco's robust efforts to shut down the foreign fighter 
pipeline to Iraq. The Moroccans made clear that stopping 
foreign fighters bound for Iraq or other destinations was a 
major GOM priority. 

4. (S/NF) DGST Chief Hammouchi noted that Morocco has 
disrupted 83 different terrorist cells since the 2003 
Casablanca bombings. A number of cells identified have had 
connections to the Algerian GSPC, he noted. Mansouri added 
that the terrorist adversary is "very strategically minded" 
and is always seeking ways to maximize the impact of attacks 
by exploiting outside events. Townsend strongly agreed: The 
timing of the attempted car bombs in London and the Glasgow 
airport attack to coincide with the transition from the Blair 
to the Brown government, was a case in point, she opined. 

5. (S/NF) Townsend asked her hosts about the GOM's approach 
to monitoring and controlling materials that can be 
precursors to explosives. TATP, which was used in the April 
attacks in Morocco, is made from readily available 
ingredients, she noted. Hammouchi stated that the broad 
availability of explosive precursors was a source of 
frustration for the GOM. He recalled a case in which a 
violent Jihadist had sent his wife on 38 separate trips, in 
multiple cities, to buy hydrogen peroxide from pharmacies. 
"Our only weapon against this phenomenon is information," 
Hammouchi opined. 

6. (S/NF) The security chiefs underlined their conviction 
that the terrorist threat to Morocco was transnational in 
nature. At least 12 cells wrapped up in recent years have 
had direct connections to groups operating in Algeria, 
Northern Mali, and Spain. Of particular concern is recent 
information that a number of individuals in terror camps in 
Northern Mali have moved from training units to operational 
units. This information, and the approach of important 
events on Morocco's political calendar, such as the "Fete du 
Throne" (Throne Day) and the parliamentary elections in early 
September, prompted Morocco to elevate its alert level on 
July 5. 

7. (S/NF) Townsend asked the security chiefs for their 
assessment of CT cooperation between the countries of the 
Maghreb region. Cooperation with the Algerians was erratic, 
Hammouchi assessed. Sometimes they provide very good 
information and sometimes it seems like a one-way street. 
They make difficult partners, Mansouri added, speculating 
that they still suffered psychic trauma from their bloody 

RABAT 00001229 002 OF 003 


struggle against terror in the 1990s, a battle they fought 
largely on their own. Security cooperation with Libya has 
been good, Mansouri noted, they are ready to work with us and 
exchange information. There has been an improvement in 
cooperation with the Tunisians as well, he continued, though 
he opined that they are still prone to denial in assessing 
the terror threat. 

8. (S/NF) Turning to the ideological front in the war on 
terror, the security chiefs affirmed that CT disruption and 
preemption operations alone were not sufficient to defeat the 
enemy. "We have had to become involved in the ideological 
battle, even if this isn't our business," Hammouchi stated. 
"Unfortunately, political and diplomatic restraints often 
limit our ability to act," he added. Citing President Bush, 
Townsend affirmed the U.S. belief that the war of words and 
ideas is a core theater of battle, but often an area where 
Muslim leaders can be more effective than Americans. 

9. (S/NF) Townsend asked about lines of authority within the 
Moroccan government in pursuing the ideological battle 
against terrorists. Mansouri responded that there was a 
diffusion of authority, with the security agencies, the 
Ministry of Communications, and the Ministry of Religious 
Affairs all countering extremism in different ways. Townsend 
observed that this mirrored the diffusion of 
counter-extremist efforts in the USG, but wondered if both 
systems wouldn't benefit from centralization of efforts. 

10. (S/NF) Subsequent to the lunch, Minister of Interior 
Chakib Benmoussa welcomed Townsend, the Ambassador, NSC 
staff, and emboffs to his office. The Minister was joined by 
Minister-Delegate Fouad Ali Himma (who, as a long-standing 
friend and close advisor of King Mohammed VI, is generally 
considered more powerful than the Minister), and senior MOI 
officials Khalid Zerouali, Mohieddine Amzazi, Noureddine 
Benbrahim, and Abderahmane Achour. 

11. (S/NF) Affirming her appreciation of strong bilateral 
security cooperation, Townsend asked her hosts for more 
background on Morocco's recent decision to elevate its state 
of alert. The Minister said that information developed 
following recent arrests of Moroccans in the U.K., Spain, and 
Morocco, a continuing stream of general threat information, 
and upcoming events including the Fete du Throne and the 
legislative elections all prompted Moroccan security 
officials to conclude that it would be prudent to elevate the 
alert level. 

12. (S/NF) Townsend expressed understanding, mentioning the 
USG's experience that it was relatively easy to raise the 
alert level, but more difficult to bring it back down. 
Explaining such decisions to the public was always tricky, 
she added. Himma agreed that the relationship between the 
security services and the public was crucially important and 
merited constant attention. Educating the public about the 
nature of the threat and enlisting them as allies is 
particularly important he added. 

13. (S/NF) Defending the Malikite rite of Islam, native to 
Morocco, against intolerant theological strains flowing out 
of the Middle East was a major priority for King Mohammed VI 
and his government, Himma emphasized. He asserted that in 
Morocco "our people are religious and conservative, but not 
fundamentalist. Our rite is completely opposed to radical 
theology." Himma cited recent efforts to overhaul and 
upgrade the religious education system in the country, 
traditionally subsidized by the monarchy. The GOM is working 
hard to strike a balance between Moroccan tradition and 
modernity, seeking to take the best from both. Himma also 
cited the King's human development initiative, launched in 
2005, as an important piece of the counter-extremist puzzle. 

14. (S/NF) Townsend complimented the Minister for Morocco's 
apparent success in integrating various elements of the GOM 
involved in countering terror and extremism into a cohesive 
team. Himma affirmed that the GOM strives to work as one 
integrated unit, and also lauded the strong security 
cooperation Morocco enjoys with countries like the U.S. and 
Spain. "But our ambition is even higher," Himma continued. 
We would like to have the same level of coordination and 
cooperation with our neighboring countries, particularly 
Algeria. 

15. (S/NF) Recalling a visit to Algiers as the King's 
personal envoy, Himma asserted that repeated Moroccan efforts 

RABAT 00001229 003 OF 003 


to bridge the diplomatic chasm had been rebuffed. He claimed 
that he had told the Algerians that Morocco was prepared to 
reopen its border and take any of a number of other 
confidence building measures, "but the Algerians would never 
tell us what they want." He attributed what he described as 
Algerian intransigence to a generational and mind-set gap 
between the leaderships of the two countries. Noting that 
Algiers was the next stop on her multi-country itinerary, 
Townsend said she would encourage the GOA to expand security 
cooperation with Morocco and to work hard to realize a 
broader rapprochement with its neighbor. 

16. (S/NF) Prior to her arrival in Rabat, Townsend visited 
the U.S. Consulate General in Casablanca, which was targeted 
during a twin suicide bomb attack on April 14. The CG, RSO, 
and Emboffs briefed Townsend on the incident, showing her the 
site of the bomb which detonated near the Consulate General, 
and the site of the bombing which targeted the American 
Language Center one block away, which was apparently mistaken 
for a USG facility. Townsend reviewed CCTV footage of the 
attack, and received a briefing on upgrades being implemented 
to enhance the physical security of Consulate facilities and 
personnel. 


***************************************** 
Visit Embassy Rabat's Classified Website; 
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/rabat 
***************************************** 

RILEY