Our Partnerships in Morocco
Partners Against Crime
Our Working Relationship in Morocco
When the destructive “Zotob” cyber worm was unleashed on the world two summers ago, one of the places that our cyber experts quickly traced it to was the Arabic nation of Morocco on the Northwest coast of Africa.
That might have been the end of that investigative trail if not for our longstanding partnership with our colleagues there, made stronger by the establishment of an FBI Legal Attaché office or Legat in its capital city of Rabat in 2004.
We have 60 of these Legats in cities around the world, where our special agents work as diplomats rather than investigators, building relationships and trust with a variety of international law enforcement and intelligence partners to better protect our respective nations in this increasingly globalized world.
In this case, working through our special agent stationed in Rabat, we were granted permission to send our Cyber Action Team to Morocco. Once there, the team worked with Moroccan law enforcement to arrest several subjects.
Jan Ross, operations assistant in the Rabat Legat, says modern-day Morocco is a study in contrasts. “Because of its location, you have a blend of European, Middle Eastern, and African cultures here. You’ve got the coastal cities on the Mediterranean, a mountainous region, and the Sahara desert to the south. Morocco also combines the old and new; in the outlying areas you sometimes feel like you’ve stepped back in time 200 years. En route to Marrakech, I once saw a camel tied to a teleboutique, where you can make calls and buy cell phone accessories!”
“Few countries are going to let an FBI cyber team visit unless the groundwork—and trust—has been laid long before,” says Special Agent Daniel K. Brady, the acting Legat in Rabat. “It’s much easier to build that trust in person—long distance relationships are always tough. Being on the ground here every day makes a world of difference.”
Two more examples where our partnership has benefited both nations:
- In May 2003, suicide bombers attacked two restaurants, a hotel, and a Jewish cemetery in Casablanca, killing 33 and wounding more than a 100 in the deadliest acts of terrorism in Moroccan history. At the invitation of the Moroccan government, we dispatched our Fly Team to help with the case.
- Fingerprint experts from our Criminal Justice Information Services Division have traveled to Morocco twice in the past two years to help train law enforcement to take fingerprints as part of our “Global Fingerprint Initiative.” The fingerprints from known or suspected terrorists are added to our database; examiners can determine if prints taken from car bomb components in one case, for example, match those taken in another. It’s a classic information-sharing initiative: we provide the know-how and equipment, and our Moroccan partners help us strengthen our ability to track and identify terrorists.
“Whether it’s the La Sûreté Nationale or the La Gendarmerie Royale, our relationship with Moroccan authorities is excellent,” says Brady. “Director Mueller has visited twice in the past few years, to give you an idea of how much we value this relationship. Morocco is a vital U.S. ally, and it makes sense for the FBI to be here, working together with our counterparts to fight crime and terrorism.”