Faced with organized crime, terrorism and violent extremism, Morocco’s General Directorate of Territorial Surveillance (DGST) deploys its action within the country, but also outside the borders through exemplary and recognized cooperation with key partners, including the United States.
It is within the framework of the security cooperation and coordination mechanism, one of the axes of the strategic partnership between Rabat and Washington, that the services of the DGST have just made, according to the U.S. press, a valuable contribution to the American security agencies to arrest a radicalized US soldier who was planning to carry out a bloody terror attack.
Thanks to this cooperation, U.S. Army private Cole Bridges was arrested last week while he was planning an attack on the National September 11 Memorial in Lower Manhattan.
“Bridges provided detailed diagrams and even training manuals to help ISIS fighters better kill American forces,” according to US daily newspaper Newstalk Florida.
Bridges joined the U.S. Army in 2019 the same year that prosecutors say he began immersed in the propaganda of terrorist groups and a pledged supporter of jihadi terrorists. The young cavalry scout with the 3rd Infantry Division based at Fort Stewart, Georgia soon sought went public with his radical views. He began promoting these views online through social media and interacting on extremist forums, according to the same source.
The case was brought to the attention of the United States government in September 2020 by the Moroccan intelligence agency known as the General Directorate for Territorial Surveillance but, better known by its French initials — DGST, the publication said.
DGST, headed by Abdellatif Hammouchi, “has worked closely with the United States on counter-terrorism efforts in the past and made the United States government aware of Bridges online activities,” the source said, adding that from September until November 2020, Bridges was located at a U.S. military base in Germany.
Thanks to information provided by the DGST, Bridges began speaking online to someone he thought was in direct contact with ISIS fighters but, was, in fact, an online covert employee of the FBI.
“In interactions with an individual he thought was an ISIS affiliate, Bridges provided detailed diagrams and even training manuals to help ISIS fighters better kill American forces. He also described ways to fortify and protect an encampment against an American special forces assault through the use of planted explosives”, the source said.
Bridges stands accused of attempting to provide material support to ISIL and of attempting to murder U.S. military personnel. If convicted, each crime carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison though actual sentencing will be left to the judge.
The arrest of Bridges is another example of the close security cooperation between Rabat and Washington, which is part of the multifaceted strategic partnership binding the two countries.
As a sign of the importance given by the United States to this aspect of its solid relations with the Kingdom, former US Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, during his official visit in 2019 to Morocco, went to the headquarters of the DGST in Temara for talks with the director general of the General Directorate of National Security (DGSN) and of the DGST, Mr. Abdellatif Hammouchi.
Last September, the former US ambassador in Rabat, David Fischer, held discussions with Mr. Hammouchi on several security issues of common interest, in particular the mechanisms of cooperation and coordination in the fight against terrorism, violent extremism, organized crime and their growing links in the region of North Africa and the Sahel.