MOSCOW, September 19 (RIA Novosti) — The Moroccan parliament has presented a new law to be debated this October in the new parliamentary term which would criminalize the acts of training for and joining armed groups in Middle Eastern warzones, Reuters reported.
The country’s Minister of Justice noted that anyone who travels to these areas would face detainment, “since the intention of traveling to the tension areas is always baked by terrorism intensions,” MoroccoWorldNews reported.
The source also states that the draft law proposes 5-15 years in prison and tens of thousands of dollars in fines for would-be jihadis. The law would also allow the government to go after foreigners based in Morocco who are suspected of terrorism, and the application of criminal sanctions for persons suspected of supporting or propagating violence and terrorism, an element which rights activists suggest is a threat to the freedom of speech.
With up to 2,000 Moroccans estimated to be fighting in Syria and Iraq, Moroccan nationals are the second largest group of foreign fighters from North Africa, after Tunisia.
Over 200 Moroccans have already been arrested and charged upon returning home, Reuters has noted. Last week yet another IS recruitment cell was broken up by the state’s security services.
The draft law is based in some measure on fears among Moroccan authorities that large numbers of fighters presently fighting in Middle East may come back home, battle-hardened and further radicalized, resulting in dangers of terrorist attacks throughout the country, Al Jazeera noted. Morocco has already been anguished by bomb attacks blamed on radical Islamist groups, the most recent in 2011 in Marrakesh.