On October 23 a statement was distributed on the jihadi forum Minbar Suriya al-Islami (www.nnuu.org/vb) from the Mujahideen in Morocco that “the time draws right for the decisive date, the date of the declaration of Jihad against the Infidel and Tyrant state, whose heads have sold off the country and its worshippers to the Unbelievers.” The declaration went on to detail how the Casablanca bombings of May 16 2003, which killed 44 people including the 11 suicide bombers, lead to the cleansing of the arena “of Muslims truly zealous for the sanctity of the faith” with mass arrests of “scholars and men of experience in both regional and foreign jihad groups.” But the statement insisted that “following the arrest of most of Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jama’a group’s leaders and supporters, God preserved one of its secret cadres that continued its preparations, despite the difficulty of the terrain.” The present declaration appears therefore to be a signal of the restarting of activity and a demonstration of intent. “We declare from this blessed Minbar [Suriya al-Islami] the formation of the Usbat al-Falah [The Salvation League]” the declaration continued, “and call on all Muslims to support us… we are the auxiliaries of the Organization of Qaedat al-Jihad, but we in our jihad will adopt a method different from that of the Organization (of al-Qaeda].” The statement did not detail how its tactics would differ from al-Qaeda, but simply left the readers with the enigmatic note: “the League calls on all Moroccan mujahideen to concentrate their efforts to prepare for jihad on the Far West [i.e. Morocco] for this is the country most suited for the establishment of an Islamic state.”
There is no independent confirmation of this posting, but a takfir declaration (excommunication or accusation of apostasy) against the Moroccan state was also issued just prior to the May 16 crackdown, by Muhammad Fizazi, who subsequently was jailed for 30 years. The posting on the Minbar site was given the author attribution “al-Salafiyya al-Jihadiyya,” which is purportedly the name of a group founded in the early 1990s and whose leading clerics, including Muhammad Fizazi, last July staged a 20-day hunger strike from their prison cells. Although the supporters of the jailed salafists maintain that the term “al-Salafiyya al-Jihadiyya” is an invention of the Moroccan secret services, few doubt the role of the imprisoned leaders in creating the atmosphere of radicalization that preceded the May 16 bombings. If the online declaration of jihad is statement of renewed confidence, it comes at a time when what was once a disparate political tendency is showing signs of hardening and radicalizing into an organizational structure among the ideologues in the Moroccan prisons.