Case of Moroccan Islamist in Spain sheds light on migration nexus

Extremist suspected of exploiting illegal migration and profiting from the predicament of vulnerable segments of Moroccan diaspora.
Thursday 01/10/2020
A Spanish Guardia Civil officer stands next to Moroccan illegal migrants after they arrived on the beach sailing on a rubber dinghy near Tarifa, in the south of Spain. (AP)
A Spanish Guardia Civil officer stands next to Moroccan illegal migrants after they arrived on the beach sailing on a rubber dinghy near Tarifa, in the south of Spain. (AP)

RABAT – Informed sources in Spain revealed that charges have been filed against the president of the Spanish Federation of Islamic Religious Societies, Mounir Benjelloun Andaloussi.

The Spanish move comes after the municipal police of Aguilas in Murcia, south-eastern Spain, opened a judicial investigation into the activities of the Islamist figure.

According to a report by the Moroccan Dinpresse website, Spanish authorities have charged Benjelloun with inciting illegal immigration, violating Spanish labour law and failing to declare workers to social security, legal violations that can carry jail time.

Benjelloun is a well-known Moroccan diaspora figure in Spain and has links with the militant Islamist Justice and Charity group. In recent years, he has been vocal in denouncing what he calls a “conspiracy against Islam,” claiming that terrorists have been radicalised only by Islamophobic hatred.

The serious accusations, according to Dinpresse, came after local authorities carried out a surprise inspection of one of Benjelloun’s companies that was building a mosque in the region.

The inspectors recorded a number of legal violations during the visit, chiefly the clandestine employment of Moroccan immigrants without contracts. The workers were allegedly deprived of their legal rights as Benjelloun did not declare them to social security.

After filing charges against Benjelloun and his company, he was released on bail of approximately 20,000 euros ($23,340).

He said he would fight the charges brought against him by the competent court. The charges could be punished by imprisonment or significant financial penalties.

Analysts note that crimes such as those committed by Benjelloun in the name of religion and charity raise questions about the background and intentions of Islamist groups and organisations that are exploiting the plight of vulnerable segments of the Moroccan diaspora community and profiting from illegal migration.

Questions have also been raised about the funds managed by Islamists for supposed charity and aid work and whether their activities are helping finance militant organisations in their home countries.