As ISIS Expands In North Africa Morocco Faces Rising Threat Of Islamic State Group Terrorism

25Morocco’s rippled sand dunes, sheltered coves and white sand beaches have long lured tourists looking for a taste of the Maghreb without compromising security. The narrow country, which borders the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, has been hailed for years as a success story in the Arab world and the last safe haven in North Africa. But a surge in Islamic State group supporters is threatening that stability.

With a Muslim majority population, high youth unemployment and its proximity to territory held by the Islamic State group in Libya, Morocco is facing a rising threat of Islamic radicalism and terrorism at home that could shatter its image as trouble-free. A growing number of Moroccans are joining ISIS on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria, while several hundred others have traveled to Libya in recent months. Terrorism and political experts said these Moroccan fighters pose a threat to the greater Maghreb region as well as nearby southern Europe because they could mount attacks upon returning home.

“Morocco is a natural candidate,” Max Abrahms, an expert on terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa and an assistant professor of political science at Northeastern University in Boston, said. “There are a lot of conditions there that favor growing terrorism problems.”

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What’s the Biggest Problem Facing the Country? Democrats and Republicans Disagree

24As they barnstorm across the caucus and primary states, the Republican and Democratic frontrunners for the presidential nomination often sound as if they’re from different countries, not just different parties.

According to Republicans, the United States faces a daunting list of crises: an existential threat from Islamic extremism, a tidal wave of illegal immigration, a federal government out of control.

Democrats, meanwhile, are focused on the economy: too few good jobs, too much inequality (both gender and racial), too little access to healthcare.

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Democracy and Terrorism

23Terrorism and Democratic Systems

Although there is no commonly accepted definition of terrorism, there has been widespread agreement on many of its key characteristics. Terrorism consists of the use of violence or the threat of violence by an organized group to attain political objectives. The victims of terrorism are important as a means for influencing a wider target audience. The victims are normally civilians because attacks on them increase the impact of the violence on the target audiences. Terrorism is also a weapon of the weak. Groups that are able to obtain their desired political objectives by other means such as victory in an election, intra-elite maneuverings, military coups, bribery, rebellion, or civil war, are much less likely to rely on terrorism as the primary means of trying to achieve their goals. The last characteristic is that terrorism involves non-governmental actors on at least one side. Either the targets, or the terrorists, and sometimes both are non-governmental actors.

One indirect indication of democratic vulnerability to terrorism is the general absence of non-state terrorism in totalitarian societies. These most repressive systems have been relatively free of such terrorist activity. Totalitarian governments have advantages in dealing with potential terrorist groups. They do not have to worry about collecting evidence for a trial or presenting credible or compelling evidence. They can also use more extreme methods of interrogation or even threaten family members as a means of gaining leverage with suspects.

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How Have Other Countries Handled It? How Should We?

22The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 took the lives of thousands of people and demonstrated that terrorism is one of the most significant problems facing the United States.

For the past 30 years, terrorists have operated in many countries. Except for a few small violent leftist groups during the Vietnam War years, the territorial United States has been relatively free of this plague. A sign of things to come, however, occurred in 1993 when a massive explosion destroyed the underground garage of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing six. Those responsible belonged to a group of Arab extremists who viewed America as an evil force in the world. The bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, did more than end the lives of 168 persons. It also brought terrorism to the heartland of America.

But the Oklahoma City bombing was the work of a small group of Americans angry with their own government. The most recent terrorist attacks seem to be the work of foreign extremists determined to change U.S. policy in the Middle East by causing as many deaths as possible.

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Definition of Terrorism Social and Political Effects

21Social structure and order, governance of society and politics are dependent on good communication, and good communication requires agreement on definitions of terminology. Terrorism can dramatically influence the world, as shown by the far-reaching and prolonged effects of the attacks in New York on 11th September 2001.  The definition of terrorism will affect  communication and response to this  issue and so have consequences for society and politics. However a suitable universal definition remains elusive because different bodies, organisations and government agencies have different definitions to suit their own particular role, purpose or bias.


A broad internet literature search was performed by entering key words in widely used internet search engines such as Google and Yahoo.  Key words used were “terrorism” (plus derivatives such as “terror”, “terrorist, etc)” and “definition” (plus derivatives such as “define”, “defining”, etc).  This revealed  a large number of internet references but the vast majority were published for purposes other than improvement in knowledge or for scientific research.  Most were the publications of political organisations across the full spectrum from left to right, pressure groups, lobby groups, “think tanks” with a biased point of view, commercial organisations and “journalists” or “researchers” expressing a pre-conceived point of view.  Often the information presented was second or third hand and had been altered to suit the bias of the author.  All but a few were rejected.  Separating truth from disinformation is a hazard when researching terrorism.

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