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Devroe, E., Ponsaers, P. (2016). "The Informal Economy of Intelligence into Terrorism: A Moroccan-Belgian Case-Study". Forensic Research & Criminology International Journal , 2(2): 00051.

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Abstract

The informal economy is often considered an exchange economy. This paper focuses on the question of whether intelligence concerning terrorism is an exchange commodity between different parties. Could this kind of exchange be considered as a form of informal economy? If so, what is the exchange value and the utility value for the parties involved? These arguments are explored through reference to a case study of a Moroccan “terrorist network” and the official reaction to it by Moroccan and Belgian police, justice and intelligence services. This case focuses on the relations between the members of the network itself, but also between different public agencies involved in counter terrorism. We start from the observation that the vagueness between legality and criminality is to a large extent supported by the fact that national regulators use other standards concerning which activities they can and want to consider as legal and/or criminal. Also within official regulatory measures, a grey zone can be observed between the governmental capacity to regulate certain activities, and the willingness (or refusal) to intervene. As such, the paper is concerned with the political economy of regulation, the grey zone between technical competence and political desirability.
Forensic Research & Criminology International Journal
The Informal Economy of Intelligence into Terrorism:
A Moroccan-Belgian Case-Study
Submit Manuscript | http://medcraveonline.com
Volume 2 Issue 2 - 2016
1University of Leiden, The Netherlands
2Department of Criminology, Ghent University, Belgium
*Corresponding author: Elke Devroe, University of
Leiden, Institute of Security and Global Affairs, Faculty of
Governance and Global Affairs, Koningin Julianaplein 10,
2595 AA, The Hague room 12.55, The Netherlands, Tel: 0031
70 8009375; Email:
Received: January 1, 2016 | Published: March 05, 2016
Review Article
Forensic Res Criminol Int J 2016, 2(2): 00051
Abstract
The informal economy is often considered an exchange economy. This paper
focuses on the question of whether intelligence concerning terrorism is an
exchange commodity between different parties. Could this kind of exchange be
considered as a form of informal economy? If so, what is the exchange value and
the utility value for the parties involved?
These arguments are explored through reference to a case study of a Moroccan
“terrorist network” and the official reaction to it by Moroccan and Belgian police,
justice and intelligence services. This case focuses on the relations between
the members of the network itself, but also between different public agencies
involved in counter terrorism.
We start from the observation that the vagueness between legality and criminality
is to a large extent supported by the fact that national regulators use other
standards concerning which activities they can and want to consider as legal
and/or criminal. Also within official regulatory measures, a grey zone can be
observed between the governmental capacity to regulate certain activities, and
the willingness (or refusal) to intervene. As such, the paper is concerned with
the political economy of regulation, the grey zone between technical competence
and political desirability.
Introduction
The relationship between the informal economy and illegality
remains a subject of debate. A large part of the activities within
the informal economy can be considered legitimate and legal.
        
certain legal, and illegal activities [1]. It is clear that between both
kinds of activities a grey zone exists. Within this framework, the
    
criminological terms, the focus lies on the “offender,” and his or
her behaviour.
This paper will not focus exclusively on this problem, but
will also discuss a related phenomenon. We start from the
observation that the vagueness between legality and criminality
is to a large extent supported by the fact that national regulators
use other standards concerning which activities they can and
want to consider as legal and/or criminal [2]. Within this
framework the position of the public authorities is questioned. In
criminological terms, the focus we use is on the “social reaction”
        
of behaviour, more precisely of terrorist actions. In particular,
we discuss the informal economy of the exchange of intelligence
about terrorism and how this can be illustrated through reference
to the ‘A.B. case’.
While it is our intention to discuss the Moroccan A.B. case in
the aforementioned framework, it is clearly not our objective to
mirror the “reality,” or the “truth” of the different elements in this
case, to disentangle the complex interrelations between different
persons or groups involved. Even if we wanted to do so, this kind
of analysis is impossible, because the world of intelligence is not
transparent enough to succeed in such an enterprise, preventing a
comprehensive and transparent overview. We are to a large extent
dependent on the triangulation of information generated by
different media, whilst we acknowledge the partiality of this data

12. The methodology used in this case-study was a triangulation
of methods. A discourse media analyse was done, complemented
with some formal validation by Belgian authorities like the public
prosecution and the police. Besides that study, parliamentary
‘questions and answers’ were used as a source of information,
complemented by desk top analysis screening the internet and

one hand and on informal economy on the other.
We use the label “A.B. network” for the group under study,
without making reference to particular persons, as our aim is to
illustrate the dilemmas actors encounter in this kind of intelligence
exchange and how they can be understood through reference to
the concept of the informal economy. The utility of this concept is


as the exchange of a commodity between two parties by monetary
payment. If there is no payment, the exchange is no trade, but a
gift (if this is voluntary), or a theft (if it is without consent) traded
commodity has:
a. A value, determined by the labour invested in the production
on it [3,4]
1
also differ often about details.
2 Professor emeritus at Ghent University, Faculty of Law, Department of
Criminology, Penal Law and Social Law (Belgium).
The Informal Economy of Intelligence into Terrorism: A Moroccan-Belgian Case-Study 2/11
Copyright:
©2016 Devroe et al.
Citation: Devroe E, Ponsaers P (2016) The Informal Economy of Intelligence into Terrorism: A Moroccan-Belgian Case-Study. Forensic Res Criminol Int
J 2(2): 00051. DOI: 10.15406/frcij.2016.02.00051
b. A utility value, determined by the capacity of a commodity to

c. An exchange value, determined by the level of demand and
offer on the market (scarcity),
d. A market price, which results out of the aspects mentioned.
Trade is registered and regulated by policy-makers and is
consequently part of the formal economy.
Trade becomes part of the informal economy when there
is mutual, consensual, and a direct exchange of commodities
between two parties without monetary transaction, called
exchange. This exchange is not regulated by policy-makers (they
cannot regulate it, because there is no trace of registration of the
trade), but it isn’t necessarily illegal. It is our intention to come
back to this conceptual framework in the analytical part of the
paper (part two) and comment on the meaning of exchange of
intelligence into terrorism within the context of informal economy
and exchange theory.
e A.B. Case
The context
To fully appreciate the A.B. case it is important to understand
the history of the Moroccan independence movement and the
particular role of the Moroccan Communist Party. From 1912
onwards, Morocco was occupied by the French and the Spanish,
and became, to a large extent, a French protectorate34. The
Moroccan branch of the French Communist Party (PCF) was legally
established in 1936; its success was short-lived: when the PCF got
prohibited in France in 1939, so too was its Moroccan branch [5].
Morocco engaged in a process towards independence under the
        
Party), which was founded in 19445 [6]. During this time, the
Communists began to emerge openly again in Morocco and
formed the Moroccan Communist Party (PCM). The party grew
rapidly. In an effort of the PCM to join in the Moroccan national
front, their program called for the independence of Morocco and
the withdrawal of French troops. In doing so, the PCM lost the
support of most European members, especially that of the French
PCF. During these years the PCF recognized the French colonial
dominance and did not support the Moroccan claim for autonomy
[7].
In 1956 Morocco declared itself independent and became a
monarchy. The majority of the population was Islamist, with small
minorities of Christians and Jews. King Mohamed V reigned until
his death in 1961, at which point his son, Hassan II, began three
3After the conquest of Algeria in 1830 by the French, Morocco sustained the
Algerian rebellion leader Abd el-Kader. This situation led to a war. France,
Spain and the UK agreed upon the division of Morocco in an international
           
beginning of the 20th century
4Though Spain controlled the northern third of the country as well as the
Western Sahara.
5The Istiqlal represented the nationalist right wing, whose discourse relies
heavily on Islam as one of the fundamental elements of its socio-political
programme. It supported the king in the early sixties and was reintegrated
into the government between 1977 and 1984 (Joffé & Vasconcelos, 2000).
decades of authoritarian rule [8]. Hassan II was considered to be
directly descended from the prophet Mohammed. Taking that
position, he was untouchable, and each form of (political) critique
and opposition could be interpreted as blasphemy.
On paper the country had a plural party system. The de facto
state-power, however, was centralised in the hands of the King,
         
including ambassadors and even judges. In short, Hassan II
reigned as a dictator [9]. In the context of the Cold War, Hassan
II sought the support of western countries. Most of these western
countries condoned this authoritarian regime because of their fear
for revolution or terrorist activity in the country. The US sustained
the regime in developing the Moroccan security services and the
secret police [10].
After the proclamation of the sovereign State of Morocco, the
autonomous PCM recognised the monarchy. The party followed a
revisionist political line, and refused to engage in armed struggle
and opposition to the established regime. Attempts to remove
   
objectionable, did not stem the losses to the party. Despite the
efforts of the PCM to join in the national front, they were formally
excluded by the nationalist parties that composed it, as they
mistrusted the Communists. As a consequence, the Moroccan
government moved to dissolve the PCM in September 1959 6 [5].
Mehdi Ben Barka, the most important socialist opponent to
the monarchy, joined in 1943 the nationalist Istiqlal party, and
became a member of the National Consultative Assembly from
1956 to 1959. In 1959 he left after clashes with conservative
party members to form the left-wing National Union of Popular
Forces (UNFP), becoming the most important left anti-royalist
   
of society and resulted in violent demonstrations. In the vanguard
of these politicized groups was the UNEM (the Union nationale
des étudiants du Maroc). The yearly congress of the UNEM was
repeatedly the scene of raucous demands for democratization,
the purging of colonialism, and the placing of limits on the
powers of the king. Ben Barka was widely considered as a likely
president for a possible Republic of Morocco. When Morocco and
Algeria had a brief war in 1963, Ben Barka sided with Algeria
and went into exile. He was accused of plotting against King
Hassan II and sentenced in absentia to death. He moved to Paris
and became leader-in-exile of the opposition to Hassan II [11].
During the middle of the sixties, Marxists were confronted with
the revisionism of the PCM, and radicals within this movement
translated their convictions into the terms of armed struggle,
democratic and anti-imperialist revolution. The organisation was
strongly supported by students, youngsters, miners and workers
in many cities and in the countryside. Starting in 1965, youth
above the age of seventeen were prohibited from attending the
second cycle of high school. In practice, this rule separated out
60% of students. It became a rallying symbol which set off the
student mobilization, and provoked unrest in Casablanca, Rabat
6The Moroccan Supreme Court ruled in May 1964 that the Communists
were opposed not only to the regime, but also to the fundamental tenets
of Islam.
The Informal Economy of Intelligence into Terrorism: A Moroccan-Belgian Case-Study 3/11
Copyright:
©2016 Devroe et al.
Citation: Devroe E, Ponsaers P (2016) The Informal Economy of Intelligence into Terrorism: A Moroccan-Belgian Case-Study. Forensic Res Criminol Int
J 2(2): 00051. DOI: 10.15406/frcij.2016.02.00051
and other cities [12]. These unrests were brutally dispersed by
the government and a large number of dissidents, including many
communists, were arrested [13].
In April 1965, Hassan II attempted a reconciliation with the
opposition, receiving a delegation from the UNFP of Ben Barka,
but these discussions resulted in no concrete action, and the
UNFP continued to criticize the regime. On the 29th October 1965,
Ben Barka had “disappeared” in Paris, never to be seen again. A
formal inquiry and trial in France showed that Morocco had
violated French national sovereignty and, moreover, French police

involved in Barka’s disappearance [14].
This marked the beginning of a tumultuous period in Morocco’s
political history. Throughout the sixties and seventies, a number
of political parties were found, only to be either banned by the
King, or prosecuted for unclear reasons and often without due
process. Islamist groups (Chabiba Islamiya “Islamic Youth”) were
formed, along with leftist groups (Party of Progress and Socialism,
heritage of Ben Barka). These were all effectively challenged by
the king, and often their parties did not persevere [14,15].
On the 10th of July 1971 King Hassan II survived a military coup
attempt. A year later, on the 16th of August 1972, a new assault
was perpetrated against Hassan II. Escorting military airplanes
attacked the royal Boeing7 . Following these events, Hassan II
cleansed the top ranks of the military and political dissidents
were prosecuted and detained without due process. The student
syndicate UNEM was dissolved and its leaders were arrested.
As a result, Hassan II reorganised the Moroccan intelligence
services in 1973 into the DGED (“Direction Générale des Etudes
et de la Documentation”, or the General Directorate for Studies
and Documentation) and the DGST (“Direction Générale de la
Surveillance du Territoire”, or the General Directorate for the
Surveillance of the Territory). Members of the DGED were sent
abroad to observe the Moroccan diaspora throughout Western
Europe. The DGST was tasked to maintain the internal security of
Morocco [16].
It is in this political context that A.B. is born in 1957 in Nador,
former Spanish Morocco, at the Mediterranean coast, nearby
the Algerian border. When A.B. is seven, he becomes interested
in Islam and visits local mosques. Later on, his Belgian lawyer
declared: “A.B. grew up with guns. His father was in an Islamic
movement and spent time in Egypt, involved in armed activity
as well”8. Like many radicals of his generation, A.B. studied
engineering and embraced leftist and Islamic ideas. In October
1971 the family migrates to Belgium. A.B. is fourteen at that time
[16].
The Life of A.B., and The “confessions”9
A short timeline of the life of A.B., and the political changes
throughout his life will be provided but since this article’s focus
is not on A.B. the individual, but more on A.B. the pawn within the
intelligence game, his biography will be short and concise.
7    
assault.
8Los Angeles Times, One terrorist suspect’s murky trail, 24/08/2008.
9During the development of the case-study we will refer to “confessions”
made by A.B. These “confessions” were the result of interrogations of A.B.
in February 2008 by the Moroccan police. As we will discuss further on,
these “confessions”
1970s: The Moroccan DGED, and the DGST developed their
relationship with the Belgian State Security. It was agreed
upon that the Belgians would inform DGED when members of
the Moroccan community would infringe upon public order in
Belgium or Morocco [16].
1980s: Political Islam gathers momentum in Morocco; the
remnants of Chabiba splinter into a number of smaller groups
varying in terms of the moderation or radicalism. These factions
are involved in smuggling ammunition and explosives and
eventually they migrate to Iran, inspired by the Islamic Revolution.
The so-called success of the Islamic Revolution inspired many
North-Africans to believe that an Islamist alternative was possible
[17].
1979-1980: A.B. starts reading Islamist literature, and
participates in conferences in mosques throughout Brussels.
Initially employed in the metallurgic industry, he would later
work for the Belgian Christian Labour Union (CSC) [18]. During
these years, A.B. marries and studies industrial electricity [16].
1980: A.B. “confessed” to meeting members of the Moroccan
Islamic Revolutionary Movement. The meeting takes place in
the Iranian embassy in Brussels, during which a regime shift in
Morocco is stressed, based on the Iranian experience, and the
notion to start the Jihad in Morocco. Following this meeting, A.B.

[19].
1981: an Arab delegation (a spin-off of CSC) met Ayatollah
Khomeini in Iran10.
1981-1985: Belgian civil intelligence take notice of A.B. as he
becomes known as an extreme Islamist, and pro-Iranian opponent
of the Moroccan king11. Contacts between GDED and the Belgian
State Security become more intense, and information concerning
A.B. is exchanged between the GDED and Belgian State Security
[16,19].
1986: Belgian public prosecutor starts recording A.B.
        
         
members of the Moroccan embassy [16].
1988: The year in which A.B. starts to actively recruit students
in the Moroccan environment in Brussels, convincing them of the
necessity to start the Jihad in Morocco. A.B. also “confessed” to
traveling to Algeria, where he meets members of the Palestinian
Abu Nidal organisation [19]. He receives the assignment to gather
information concerning Jews and Saudi Arabians in Belgium, with
the aim of liquidating them.
1986-1989: A number of political assassinations which A.B.
subsequently confesses to. In 1988 a former Belgian air-force
  
and in the same year a Jewish tailor was also killed [16]. In March
1989 the imam of the Grand Mosque in Brussels, which functioned
  
The double assassination is claimed by the “Soldiers of Justice”, a
10According to certain sources A.B. travels in 1983 to Lebanon where he is

11Declaration of the Belgian Minister of Justice Vandeurzen before
Parliament, De Standaard, 04/03/2008. Retrieved on 26/05/2015 at
http://www.standaard.be/cnt/dmf04032008_102
The Informal Economy of Intelligence into Terrorism: A Moroccan-Belgian Case-Study 4/11
Copyright:
©2016 Devroe et al.
Citation: Devroe E, Ponsaers P (2016) The Informal Economy of Intelligence into Terrorism: A Moroccan-Belgian Case-Study. Forensic Res Criminol Int
J 2(2): 00051. DOI: 10.15406/frcij.2016.02.00051
pro-Iranian fraction of Abu Nidal12 [19]. A.B. is interrogated four
times in relation to these events by the Belgian police, without
further consequences. A number of months later a member of the
embassy of Saudi Arabia in Brussels is shot. In October 1989 the
president of the co-ordination committee of Jewish organisations
in Belgium is killed. Again the “Soldiers of Justice” claim the
 
murders are connected. Again A.B. is interrogated by the Belgian
police concerning his eventual implication, and again a lack of
evidence leads to his release. None of these killings have ever
been solved by the Belgian police. According to the “confessions”
of A.B. he was engaged in all of them [16].
1989: convicted for embezzlement with regards to his
activities with the CSC. Moreover, the Belgian Gendarmerie

but a subsequent search of A.B.’s house reveals nothing. During
this period A.B. requests naturalization, with Belgian citizenship
as the goal. The demand is refused on the advice of the Belgian
State Security services.
1990-1991: A.B. divorces, and remarries an Algerian woman.
In November 1991 the Belgian Gendarmerie receives anonymous
information implicating A.B. in the double assassination that took
place in the Grand Mosque of Brussels of 1989. Again a search is
        
weapons are found. A.B. is interrogated several times but to no
avail. Even so, A.B. appears in a report of the Belgian Anti-terrorist
Group (GIA).
1992: Belgian State Security becomes increasingly interested in
Islamic terrorism and establishes an Arab Extremism Unit which
recruits informants. This newly found unit develops contacts with
the DGED [20]. It observes privileged contacts of DGED with the
Belgian Gendarmerie and claims that intelligence services should
collaborate with intelligence services and not with the police. It is
also the year in which A.B., according to Moroccan police sources,
participates in several meetings in Tangiers and Casablanca with
the aim of establishing his own terrorist network. A politician,
M.M., is also implicated and later goes on to form the party al-Badil
al-Hadari (Civilized Alternative). A.B. is, during this time, arrested
in Morocco for his links to the “Mouvement des Moujahidins au
Maroc”13.
1993: According to A.B.’s “confessions”, he mentions weapons
smuggling between Belgium, via the Spanish enclave Melilla
(nearby the birthplace of A.B.) close to the Moroccan border.
1994: Belgian police sources allege A.B. contacts an Algerian
whom is responsible for the weapon supply for the Algerian
“Front Islamique du Salut” (FIS)14.
12A Belgian citizen, Jan Cools, was kidnapped on May 21, 1988, near
the Palestinian refugee camp of Rashidiyeh, where he worked, on the
outskirts of the southern port of Tyre. A group calling itself ”Soldiers of
Justice” claimed reponsibility and accused Cools of spying for Israel. Many
analysts believed that ”Soldiers of Justice” was one of the many names
used by the Abu Nidal’s Group.
13In May 2012 the Moroccan police announces the seizure of a large
amount of weapons transported from Belgium for the “Mouvement des
Moujahidins au Maroc.” A.B. is mentioned in this context as supplier of war
gear by the Moroccan police. He has always denied his implication in this

Maroc” are condemned for their participation in terrorist activities
14The FIS is an illegal fundamentalist islamist political party in Algeria.
1999: A.B. meets members of the “Groupe Islamique
Combattant Maroccain” (GICM) in Morocco, to discuss the
establishment of a Jihadist network. During this period A.B.
starts to function occasionally as informant for the Belgian civil
intelligence service [16]. In Morocco, King Hassan II passes away,
and the more liberal Crown Prince Sidi Mohammed takes the
throne, assuming the title of Mohammed VI. He enacts successive
reforms to modernize Morocco, and the human-rights record of
  
is to free approximately 8.000 political prisoners and reduce the
sentences of another 30.000 [15].
2000: On the 17th of April, an armed paramilitary commando

Ziegler, located in Khelen, Luxembourg. The loot of the armed
hold-up is roughly 17,5 million euro, which is never recovered.
         
Moroccan Belgian from Brussels (A.B.2), who was unknown to
the police services in Belgium15. During a search in the house of
         
arrested. According to the Moroccan police, A.B.2 is a member of
the network of A.B.
It is also the year in which, according to the “confessions,
         
Security; A.B. denies that he was paid for his services16 He
frequently travels between Morocco and Belgium, contacting
several terrorist organisations. Again he applies for Belgian
citizenship, which is denied once more, only to be overturned a
week later. The Belgian Justice Minister declares that A.B. did not
enjoy protection, and that the demand for naturalisation was not
used as means of exchange for information. Since then, A.B. has
held a dual Moroccan-Belgian citizenship [16].
2001: In August A.B. travels to Karachi, Kabul, Kandahar,
and Quette where he encounters the top of al-Qaida days before
9/1117. He “confesses” to meeting with Osama Bin-Laden, Ayman
al-Zawahiri and others. A.B.’s followers train in al-Qaida camps
alongside militants belonging to the Moroccan Islamic Combatant
Group (GICM)18.
15 The man will be arrested in 2008 by the Moroccan police as a member
of the terrorist network of A.B.
16The news was launched in the media in February 2008. Following
this announcement, the Moroccan interior minister claimed that it was
“obvious” that the Belgian intelligence services had known about A.B. Jo
Vandeurzen, Belgium’s minister of Justice, spoke to the Belgian House of

nor deny whether or not A.B. was an informant. He said that he had handed
responsibility to the Permanent Intelligence Oversight Committee, which
was charged to draw conclusions. Shortly after these events it became
clear from leaked documents submitted to the Permanent Intelligence
Oversight Committee that the intelligence wing of the Belgian army had
also been aware of A.B. The newspaper De Morgen reported that the
committee had requested and received “hundreds” of documents from the
State Security and also from the Algemene Dienst Inlichting en Veiligheid
(General Information and Security - ADIV). The manner in which such
details were being openly discussed caused the general administrator of
the State Security to issue a complaint. He said he “deplored” the media
   
said that the “total irresponsibility” of media reporting could compromise
  
that the department has had to answer public questions on “operational
data.”
17       
9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
18 The GICM will commit assaults in Casablanca (on the 16th of May 2003)
The Informal Economy of Intelligence into Terrorism: A Moroccan-Belgian Case-Study 5/11
Copyright:
©2016 Devroe et al.
Citation: Devroe E, Ponsaers P (2016) The Informal Economy of Intelligence into Terrorism: A Moroccan-Belgian Case-Study. Forensic Res Criminol Int
J 2(2): 00051. DOI: 10.15406/frcij.2016.02.00051
2002: Legislative actions are held In September, and the
Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP), the heritage of the left-
wing split from Istiqlal by Ben Barka in 1959, wins. International
observers regard the elections as free and fair, in contrast to
the 1997 elections [14]. The same year, al- Hadari (“Civilized
Alternative”), is formed by Secretary-General M.M.19; it offers a
leftist alternative to other Islamist organisations. The leaders
call themselves Islamist democrats, mirroring the idea of
European Christian Democrats. They are alumni of the radical
Chabiba Islamiya (“Islamic Youth”). The founding manifesto
supports a socialist Islam. They sustain the governmental plan for
emancipation of women and start a dialogue with other political
groups. The party declares itself in favour of civil rights, social
justice, the rule of law, and democracy [21].
2003: On May the 16th, twelve terrorists commit parallel

restaurants, a Jewish civic association and a Jewish cemetery in the
old city. Thirty-three people are killed, and more than one hundred
are injured. The events are considered as the Moroccan 9/11, the
most serious terrorist acts committed on Moroccan territory.
Until that moment, the Moroccan monarchy appeared to have
successfully contained its political Islamists, either by co-opting
them into the system or by limiting their space for manoeuvre. The
Casablanca attacks, however, shattered this image and uncovered a
complex and diverse array of militant Islamist groups. On the 29th
of May 2003, less than two weeks after the Casablanca bombings,
the Moroccan parliament passes the Law to Combat Terror20. The
law had been pending before the parliament through the winter
session [22]21        
individual in preventative incommunicado detention, which is
increased from eight to twelve days [...] before the suspect must be
brought before the investigative judge. It also allows the judicial
police, with the prosecutor’s approval, to prevent suspects being
investigated from meeting with their lawyers for up to ten days.
 
suspects arrested in the aftermath of the Casablanca bombings
have reported incidents of torture and secret detention [23,24].
The Moroccan government responds with a crackdown against
Islamist extremists, ultimately arresting several thousand,
prosecuting 1.200, and sentencing about 900.
Following the bombings, Moroccan authorities believe the
perpetrators to be of Belgian origin; the Belgian government
 
with a French colleague to Rabat. What is discussed remains
unclear, but after the passage of both agents in Morocco serious
tensions between the DGED and the Belgian State Security can be
observed.
and Madrid (on the 11th of March 2004).
19The party will only participate in the elections from 2005 on.
20
     
2003.
21        
with the provisions of the Convention against Torture. The government
does not recognize the competence of the U.N. Committee against Torture
   
Morocco also does not recognize the competence of CAT under Article
22 of the Convention to consider individual complaints (Human Rights
Watch, 2004b).
2004: A.B. moves from Brussels to the Ghent area, renting a
house of a Belgian State Security Informant.
2005: A.B. travels to Damascus (Syria) to recruit Jihadi’s for the
war in Iraq. Shortly after the 7/7 2005 assaults, the Belgian State
Security gives the British government “very precise” information
from A.B. about a planned follow-up attack22. Moreover, A.B. visits
         
Group for Preaching and Combat.
2008 - January: A.B. travels to Marrakech. According to certain
sources he wants to resolve matters concerning the money
stemming from the Brink’s Ziegler hold-up committed by A.B.2. On
the 18th of January rumours in the Moroccan community run that
A.B. disappeared. The Belgian State Security becomes aware of
these rumours and announces to the Belgian ministry of external
affairs that a Belgian is in trouble in Morocco. According to the
lawyer of A.B. he was arrested, and “kidnapped” by the Moroccan
police in the hotel of his brother S.B. in Marrakech. Moreover,
according to the same source, A.B. was brought to Témara,
between Rabat and Casablanca, where he was interrogated and
tortured23.
2008- February: A.B. was arrested around the 10th of February
2008 in Morocco. The precise date and reason for the arrest remain
unclear, but Moroccan sources point to the suspicious frequent
displacements of A.B. between Belgium and Morocco which led to
further investigation. The Moroccan police contacted the Belgian
police. A.B. was interrogated by the Moroccan police for a week,
and started his “confessions.” These declarations were the basis to
draw a list of 34 members of the A.B. network24. The most striking
fact is that the list contained six Moroccan politicians.
The accusations
A.B. was arrested around the 10th of February 2008 in
Morocco. The precise date and reason for the arrest remain
unclear, but Moroccan sources point to the suspicious frequent
displacements of A.B. between Belgium and Morocco which led to
further investigation. The Moroccan police contacted the Belgian
police. For a week A.B. was interrogated by the Moroccan police
and started his “confessions.” These confessions were the basis to
draw a list of 34 members of the A.B. network25. The most striking
fact is that the list contained six Moroccan politicians.
The Moroccan police continue their discrete investigation and
  
one in Casablanca, all as a result of A.B.’s “confessions.” According
to the ministry of Interior, the arms originate from Belgium in
1994. They were transported by car by A.B. himself. In 2000 a
new stock will be brought in by the network. According to the
logic of the Moroccan authorities these stocks prove the manifest
violent intentions of the network. The weapon used for the
attempted assassination in June 1996 of a Jewish entrepreneur
in Casablanca is said to have been found in the stock of the A.B.
22 Agence France-Presse 3/15/2008.
23Retrieved on 26/05/2015 at https://www.wikileaks.org/plusd/
cables/08RABAT171_a.html
24Retrieved on 26/05/2015 at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/
08CASABLANCA59_a.html
25Retrieved on 26/05/2015 at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/
08CASABLANCA59_a.html
The Informal Economy of Intelligence into Terrorism: A Moroccan-Belgian Case-Study 6/11
Copyright:
©2016 Devroe et al.
Citation: Devroe E, Ponsaers P (2016) The Informal Economy of Intelligence into Terrorism: A Moroccan-Belgian Case-Study. Forensic Res Criminol Int
J 2(2): 00051. DOI: 10.15406/frcij.2016.02.00051
network. The six political members of the alleged network were
aware of the existence of these stocks, according to the Moroccan
authorities [25]. Some of the evidence in the case was not made

On Wednesday the 20th of February 2008 the minister of
Interior, assisted by the Moroccan police, the “Direction Générale
de la Sûreté Nationale” (DGSN)26, delivered his press-report
concerning the case of A.B. He announced the dismantling of
a terrorist network, with A.B. at the head of the network. The
suspects are arrested in Casablanca, Radbat and Nador. He
simultaneously announces the ban on the al-Badil al-Hadari
(Civilized Alternative) party. The founder of the party, M.M.,
is among the suspects. The disparate nature of the detainees,
including professors, politicians, pharmacists, computer
and telecommunication technicians, journalists and a police
superintendent, and the large variety of accusations is striking.
The case is described as amorphous. According to the DGSN
        
contributions from its own members [27].
The Interior minister, Chakib Benmoussa, declares on the
21st of February 2008 that the group targeted foreign tourists,

and 2005. He charged that various members of the network had
contacts over the years with members of al-Qaida and Lebanese
Hezbollah. Lastly, the minister mentioned connections with the
Morrocan Islamic Revolutionary Movement, where A.B. was
introduced at the Iranian embassy in Brussels in 1980 [28].
According to the Moroccan version of the events, the A.B.
network is divided into members belonging to the core of the
organisation, and the periphery: those who delivered logistic aid
to the network (by selling stolen objects, facilitating transactions,
housing meetings, hiding weapons, etc.). The members of the
core were engaged in subversive meetings from 1992 on, 17
years before the arrests. A year later al-Badil al-Hadari (Civilized
Alternative) was constituted [25].
On 16th October2008 the process against the A.B. network
starts at the Salé Criminal Appeal Court. The formal charges, some
from the penal code and others from the 2003 anti-terrorism
law27, include “harming the interior security of the state”, “forming
an armed group to attack public property”, “forming a criminal
group to perpetrate terrorist attacks”, possession of illegal arms
and explosives, forging documents, and laundering money. It is
a drawn out process, with 40 lawyers defending the members of
the network. On the 27th of July 2009 the court would judge in
the case. The judge considers the 6 murders to be proven, along
with the smuggling of weapons and the laundering of money. The
composition of the network is as follows:
Firstly, there is the so-called “Belgian connection” of the
network. The ringleader, A.B., is interrogated four times by the
police, and twice by the examining magistrate. He “confesses” his
implication in the six assassinations in Belgium between 1986
and 1989, including the killing of a Jewish leader in Belgium
which had been attributed to Abu Nidal. During searches in
26Known as ’Sûreté nationale’. DGSN is the most important police force of
Morocco, functioning under the supervision of the minister of Interior.
27 Law 03-03 of May 29, 2003.
Casablanca and Nador large amounts of weapons are discovered

 
this context. A.B. is consequently sentenced to life imprisonment
in July 2009
Another Belgian Moroccan, A.B.2, who was convicted, and
escaped prison in Luxembourg for the Brink’s Ziegler robbery, is
also arrested. He is suspected to have committed different hold-
ups in jewel-shops in Belgium, and in an agency of Lydec28 in
Morocco during 1993, 1994, 2000, and 2002. During a search at

of weapons and ammunition.
The money (17, 5 million euros) of the Brink’s-Ziegler hold-up
is not found. A.B.2 will be judged by the court of Sale to 30 years in
prison. A goldsmith from Casablanca, who melted down the stolen
jewels in ingots, receives the same sentence.
The man who is considered to be the manager of the laundered
Brink’s funds is also among the accused. He is sentenced to 8
years imprisonment. Together with A.B. and his 2 year younger
brothers, S.B., a hotel manager in Marrakech, is also accused. He
is sentenced to 8 years, reduced to 5 years on appeal, and then
pardoned in 2012. Also a hotel waiter, sentenced to 8 years
imprisonment and a parking keeper (who gets a minor sanction
of two years) in Casablanca is on the list. Yet another Belgian
of Moroccan origin, a shopkeeper in Casablanca and Tangier,
unknown to the Belgian police, is also accused and sentenced to 8
years Imprisonment.
Secondly, the home-based Moroccan suspects are an additional
group within the network. Those who will be condemned the
most severely by the court of Sale initially are: a retired teacher
from Casablanca, a shopkeeper in Tangier and Kenitra, and a
shopkeeper from Oujda; all sentenced to thirty years in prison.
Furthermore, there are the director of a telecommunications
agency in Casablanca (30 years) and his associate (30 years); a
modest shopkeeper from Nador, the birth place of A.B., who knew
about a hide-away of a stock of arms (15 years); a notions seller
from Rabat (15 years); a teacher in a private school in Casablanca
(10 years); a former employee in a travel agency in Kenitra (8
years)29.
Thirdly, the last group is composed of Moroccan politicians
with connections to the far left and Islamist movement. None of
these suspects have a prior criminal record. These circumstances

Moroccan state had accused leaders of moderate Islamist parties

at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Casablanca and Secretary-
General of al-Badil al-Hadari (Civilized Alternative). M.M. had the
28 An operator of public services, distributing water and electricity.
29All the others are considered as less important and will be judged to lower

scientist at the direction of judicial assistance at the Hassan II foundation
for Moroccans residing abroad in Rabat (5 years); a bricklayer assistant
from Kenitra (5 years); a professor (5 years); a police superintendent
(5 years); a pharmacy PhD holder from Casablanca (3 years, acquitted
on re-trial after the Court of Cassation quashed his conviction); another
professor (2 years); an unemployed person (1 year); a woodworker (1
year); etc.
The Informal Economy of Intelligence into Terrorism: A Moroccan-Belgian Case-Study 7/11
Copyright:
©2016 Devroe et al.
Citation: Devroe E, Ponsaers P (2016) The Informal Economy of Intelligence into Terrorism: A Moroccan-Belgian Case-Study. Forensic Res Criminol Int
J 2(2): 00051. DOI: 10.15406/frcij.2016.02.00051
reputation of being moderate. The Moroccan authorities, on the
contrary, believed that M.M., who had always maintained good
relations with Iran, wanted to create political polarisation within
Morocco. The allegations of the Moroccan authorities go back to
1992, the moment at which a constitutive meeting took place of
the network in Casablanca, provoked by A.B. M.M. will be judged
by the court of Sale to 25 years imprisonment. His sentence will
be reduced to 10 years on appeal. In 2012 he will be pardoned.
The secretary of the national council and spokesman of al-
Badil al-Hadari is also arrested. A professor at the Ecole Normale
Superieure of Fez, was a member of Chabiba Islamiya (Islamic
Youth) as well. It was believed that he broke with radical Islamism
and lined up with a leftist political line for a long time. He also will
be judged by the court of Sale to 25 years, the sentence will be
reduced to 10 years on appeal, then pardoned in 2012.
Furthermore, there is a professor at the Ecole Normale
Superieure in Fez, the Secretary General of the unauthorized party
Al Haraka Min Ajli Al Umma, in short Al Umma (the Nation), an
Islamist organisation that had been seeking legal party status30. Al
Umma is less positioned at the left of the political spectrum, but
stands for a modern Islamist version. The accused was engaged in
1996 in the creation of Badil al-Hadari, before the establishment
of Al Umma in 1997.
There is also a pharmacist from Rabat, a member of the national
council of the Islamist-inspired Party of Justice and Development
(PJD). The PJD was the heritage of the Chabiba Islamiya (Islamic
Youth), founded in 1969, which evolved into the present-day
“Justice and Development Party” (PJD)31. The PJD is an Islamist
party that holds more seats in the chamber of deputies than all
but one other party at that moment32. He is condemned by the
court of Salé to 20 years. His sentence was reduced to 10 years on
appeal, and eventually pardoned in 2012.
The group of “politicians” contains also a correspondent of the
Hezbollah television channel Al Manar, ex-member of the national
council of the PJD. He will be judged by the court of Salé to 20
years. His sentence will be reduced to 10 years on appeal, then
pardoned in 2012.
Another professor is arrested, a member of the national council
33, and the only politician who

sentence of two years.
The problems
The affair gained attention because the charge sheet contained
limited evidence of the major, well-funded terrorist network
connected to al-Qaida as claimed by the Minister of the Interior.
The alleged acts were limited to one failed assassination attempt
30Al Umma organised its constitutional conference at the siege of the PSU,
after the refusal of the Moroccan authorities to have it organised in a
public space.
31After the events of 2008 concerning the A.B. network, the PJD will
become the ruling party in Morocco since 29 November 2011.
32After the events of 2008 concerning the A.B. network, the PJD will
become the ruling party in Morocco since the 29th of November 2011.
33

“23 Mars” (a reference to the 23 March 1965 students’ uprising). The PSU
was founded in 2005 as a merger of other parties.
in 1996 on a Jewish entrepreneur, a couple of armed robberies, and
several vehicle thefts - all before 2001. At the trial, the defendants
vigorously disputed the evidence, which largely consisted of
their purported confessions to crimes allegedly committed years
earlier. Many of the accused stated that their declarations had

M.M. tells the press that the implication of the six political
         
the political parties whose members were implicated. The then-
secretary-general of the “Justice and Development Party” (PJD),
the most prominent of the implicated parties, said the “political”
defendants were “all known for moderation, rejection of violence
and extremism, and for working within the framework of
institutions and established national principles.” He added, “We
are sure that there is some sort of an error ... and we hope it will
be corrected” [29].
During this period, a judicial case against A.B. opened in
       
the house of A.B. on the 26th of February 2008. No evidence for
terrorist activities is found [16].
In August 2008 A.B. writes an open letter in the Belgian
  
of pressure and torture in Morocco. This letter would eventually
function as a turning point in the case A.B.34
In October 2008 a Belgian police delegation is sent out by the
        
more questions than answers. They were not granted the right to

         
A.B., but central questions, such as “Did you make confessions
concerning the six murders during the period between 1986 and
1989”, were prohibited.
In November 2008, eleven individuals are interrogated
by the Belgian police following twelve searches in Belgium.
The Moroccan judicial authorities had delivered seventeen
international mandates for arrest. Fourteen of them were
related to persons whom were residents of Belgium. Six of the
interrogated individuals were witnesses of the reaching activities
of DGED in Belgium. According to them, the DGED spread false
rumours, blackmailed, threatened, photographed, observed, and
intimidated individuals. One of the interrogated alleged that
the DGED in Belgium could count on the collaboration of 150
persons. In the framework of the A.B. investigation, the DGED had
interrogated and confronted several people in Belgium with lists
of names and photographs, without formal consent of the Belgian
authorities.
The Moroccan courts did not make an effort to examine the
alleged illegal and coercive nature under which the statements
were obtained. One key piece of evidence at the trial was the
detailed statement of A.B. himself to the police, which directly
  
his police statement to the investigating judge, but later repudiated
it, saying that his interrogators had tortured him into signing a
“confession” containing false declarations that he had not made.
At trial A.B. proclaimed his innocence, and explained that he had

34Borloo, J.-P, Une lettre de Belliraj : “J’ai été torturé”, Le Soir, 14/11/2008.
The Informal Economy of Intelligence into Terrorism: A Moroccan-Belgian Case-Study 8/11
Copyright:
©2016 Devroe et al.
Citation: Devroe E, Ponsaers P (2016) The Informal Economy of Intelligence into Terrorism: A Moroccan-Belgian Case-Study. Forensic Res Criminol Int
J 2(2): 00051. DOI: 10.15406/frcij.2016.02.00051
present in the judge’s chambers.
The principal evidence against the defendants were two stocks
of arms found by police in Nador and Casablanca. A.B. spoke of
the weapons but he said that they had been intended for sale or
delivery to Islamist militants in Algeria and not for use in Morocco.
The appeals hearing started on the 26th of October 2009
before the appeals division of the Rabat Court of Appeals. Under
Moroccan law, the appeals court is empowered to review issues of
both procedure and fact and can overturn verdicts or modify the
sentences imposed by the lower courts.
   
public report [30]. A portion of it dealt with the A.B. case and is
rather critical of the Moroccan version of the facts35. According to
the report, the existence of a terroristic network is neither proven
nor implicates A.B. in six murders in Belgium. It is not only a
strong critique of the Moroccan justice system and police, but also
of the Belgian judicial system itself, which contributed actively
to the A.B36
Moroccan judicial authorities for the prosecution of A.B. A Belgian
M.P. wrote to the Minister of Justice on the 4th of March 2010
questioning this collaboration between the Belgian and Moroccan
authorities.
   
the conviction of the 35 defendants, including the six political
      
denied the defendants their right to a fair hearing in the lower
court. The appeals court reduces the sentences of six defendants,
including four associated with Islamist political parties who now

life in prison for A.B.
King Mohammed VI pardons or commutes the sentences of 190
prisoners on the 14th of April 2011. Partly due to calls made by
a rights council set up in March, linked to the process of political
reform in Morocco provoked by the wider ‘Arab Spring’. Amongst

trial. In April 2012 Secretary General M.M. of al-Badil al-Hadari
asks the Moroccan government to lift the ban on his party.
In April 2015 the Brussels court decided to cease the
prosecution of A.B. in Belgium. The federal prosecutor argued
that the “confessions” of A.B. are the result of torture in Morocco.
According to the judge there was not enough evidence in Belgium
to have A.B. convicted for the crimes he was suspected of. The
Belgian judge urged the Belgian authorities to put pressure on the
Moroccan government to allow A.B. visitations from his Belgian
lawyer.
35Retrieved on 26/05/2015 at http://meilleurdesmondes.be/blog/wp-
content/uploads/2011/06/Intelligence-S%C3%BBret%C3%A9-de-lEtat-
Rapport2008.pdf
36Borloo, J.-P, Une lettre de Belliraj : “J’ai été torturé”, Le Soir, 14/11/2008.
The formal and informal economy of intelligence in the
A.B. case
The informal market of intelligence: Cross-departmental or
inter-agency responses are
considered today as necessary in the war against terrorism
[31,32] argues: “vertical structures are arguably effective
at delivering discrete policies and providing clear lines of
management and accountability” but “complex issues, which do

of several departments, tend to be neglected.” In essence, the
A.B. case raises puzzling questions concerning the exchange of
intelligence between different services. Two hypotheses can be
formulated in this regard.
(1) The core of the Moroccan indictment and judgement are
the alleged contacts between A.B. and M.M. and other “politicians”,
dating from 1992, leading to the preparation of political violence
by a terrorist network under construction3738. At that time,
A.B. was under observation of the Belgian State Security. It is
during the same year that the Belgian State Security started to
become increasingly interested in Islamist terrorism and started
recruiting informants. Granting that A.B. started in 1999 as
occasional informant for the Belgian State Security, and in 2000

already been active in the terrorist scene before he became an
informant for the Belgian service39. This seems logical, since an
informant is interesting for an intelligence service only when he
already has a certain degree of knowledge about the environment
under investigation, but this hypothesis does not explain his
position after 2000.

heads of al-Qaida in 2001 and continuing his contact with several
terrorist groups the years following. Given his alleged status, it
is logical that the Belgian State Security was informed about
his activities during this period. This assumption is sustained
by the fact that the Belgian State Security passed “very precise”
information, stemming from A.B., to the British security and
intelligence services concerning an imminent attack in Britain in
2005.
The question should be posed: why did the Belgian State
Security not inform their Moroccan colleagues concerning the
activities of A.B. after 2000?
It is hypothesized that A.B. was the initiator, the “ringleader”,
of the formation of “his” own terrorist network in 1992. It is
plausible that A.B. presented himself to the Belgian State Security
as a participant in a broad terrorist network, and not as the spider
in the web, or as a terrorist-entrepreneur. Rather, he presented
himself to the Belgian security and intelligence services as a
follower and not as a driving force.
37Retrieved on 26/05/2015 at http://meilleurdesmondes.be/blog/wp-
content/uploads/2011/06/Intelligence-S%C3%BBret%C3%A9-de-lEtat-
Rapport2008.pdf
38 The stocks of arms found in 2008 on Moroccan territory in the framework
of the A.B. case function as the materialisation of the intentions of the
suspects from 1992 on.
39This doesn’t mean that A.B. was unknown before 1999-2000 by the
Belgian State Security. From 1986 on he is observed by the Belgian State
Security.
The Informal Economy of Intelligence into Terrorism: A Moroccan-Belgian Case-Study 9/11
Copyright:
©2016 Devroe et al.
Citation: Devroe E, Ponsaers P (2016) The Informal Economy of Intelligence into Terrorism: A Moroccan-Belgian Case-Study. Forensic Res Criminol Int
J 2(2): 00051. DOI: 10.15406/frcij.2016.02.00051
If this assumption were to be true, then it was A.B. who decided
which intelligence was passed to the Belgian State Security
and which not, covering up his complete and exact role for the
Belgians. In this scenario, the Belgian State Security was unable
to pass relevant information to the Moroccans concerning A.B.,
while they only held fragmented information concerning different
more or less “peripheral” events.
The Moroccan authorities had already known “for an extended
period of time” that A.B. was an informant for the Belgian State
Security. Also from this point view, it can be observed that
the Moroccans did not warn the Belgians of A.B.’s clandestine
activities, more precisely concerning the active role A.B. had in the
constitution of his own network from 1992 on. In short, mutual
exchange of intelligence between the Belgian and Moroccan
intelligence services was absent.
Moreover, it became clear that the Moroccans preferred to
act on their own account, also on foreign territory. We should
not forget that in 1973 the Moroccan DGED (“Direction Générale
des Etudes et de la Documentation”)40
observations abroad. Members of the DGED were sent throughout
Western Europe to observe the Moroccan diaspora in 1973
as illustrated by the Ben Barka affair, a case in which Morocco
violated French national sovereignty. This disregard for national
sovereignty was the reason why the Belgian State Security
services asked the Moroccan DGED to withdraw their agents from
Belgium in 2008 in relation to the A.B. case.
(2) It is plausible that A.B. had already been functioning as an
informant for the Belgian State Security services before 1999. If
this hypothesis is true, the active role of A.B. in the formation of
his own terrorist network would be known by the Belgian service.
In that case, we should assume that A.B. was provoking criminal
behaviour, leading others into the clandestine construction set up
by himself. This hypothesis seems unlikely, while such a scenario
would imply that the Belgian State Security has sustaining such a

This does not exclude the involvement of A.B. as an informant
for other foreign intelligence services prior to 1999. Without
suggesting that this assumption is based on reality, this scenario
seems believable. A.B. is, for example, introduced to the Iranian
embassy in Brussels in 1980 and he meets Palestinians in Algeria
during 1988, accepting subversive assignments from them. It is
evidently unclear which kind of intelligence exchange existed
during these contacts. If this assumption is plausible, we can
speak of A.B. as a double agent.
The informalization of the exchange of judicial
information
Moreover, the intelligence market is determined by other rules
than the exchange of judicial information, for the purposes of
criminal prosecution, between police services. The ultimate goal
of the intelligence market is political, while the subject of criminal
police investigation is ultimately prosecution in the criminal
courts. The judicial rules of the police are much more formalized
and regulated than those of intelligence services. In the A.B. case
this distinction becomes almost non-existent. To a large extent this
is the consequence of the fact that the Moroccan case against the
A.B. network was not only leading to the sentencing of “criminals”
by a judge, but also towards the elimination of a political party by
40Apart from the DGST (“Direction Générale de la Surveillance du
Territoire”).
the Moroccan government at the same moment. In doing so, the
logical consequence was that the defence lawyers were labelling
the prosecution of A.B. as a political rather than criminal issue.
But there are other consequences, linked to the informal
exchange of intelligence. It is conceivable that A.B. was that well
socialized in the world of intelligence services, that he “confessed”
before the Moroccan police, and the examining judge, making a
detailed statement which directly implicated the six “political”
defendants. It is possible that in doing so, he expected to gain
a negotiating position with law enforcement in his personal
interest, minimizing his culpability by pointing to role of other
actors. Ultimately it is even conceivable that A.B. involved
“political” suspects to give the process a political, and not just an
unambiguously criminal, character and in so doing he managed
to create further trouble for the ability of the Moroccan justice
system to prosecute him for criminal offences. The other, and
more realist, hypothesis is that he indeed was tortured during his
police interrogations41. If this was the case, the formal rules of law
enforcement were informalised as a consequence of competition
between intelligence services and police services.
The distinction between the intelligence world and police
investigation generates this kind of competition. When the Belgian
State Security services started to become increasingly involved
in the problem of Islamist terrorism in 1992, they observed
a growing relationship between the Moroccan DGED and the
Belgian police, more precisely the Gendarmerie, and claimed that
intelligence services should collaborate with intelligence services
and not with the police.
Of course, direct contacts between the Moroccan police and
the Belgian police can be observed in the framework of the
preparation of the court case against A.B. in 2008. In October
2008 a Belgian police delegation is sent out by the prosecutor’s
 
documents that were provided by the Belgian judicial authorities.
In this context, it is striking that in 2010 the Belgian State Security

of (judicial) collaboration. Whatever the underlying motives may
have been, it is clear that the A.B. case was a crossroad of different
logics concerning the exchange of intelligence and information,
42.
The consequence of this situation is that the court case is
directed towards a strange mixture of politically motivated
violence (e.g. assassinations and assaults), rooted in organised
  
and hold-up, money laundering, selling stolen objects), and
pure and simple legal political activism (contributions of party
members). This resulted in a group of suspects of a very disparate
nature, demonstrating that terrorist activities are to a large extent
embedded in different forms of informal economy.
41A hypothesis which seems to be supported by the fact that the Brussels
court decided to stop the prosecution of A.B. in Belgium. The federal
prosecutor argued that the “confessions” of A.B. were the result of torture
in Morocco. This is in sharp contrast with the position of the Moroccan
judge who condemned the members of the network, also in appeal.
42 It is at the least puzzling that both the Moroccan and Belgian jurisdictions
disposed to a large extent of the same judicial information and concluded
in a completely contradictory way concerning the case. We can only
deduce that the reconstruction of the “judicial truth” was in both countries

of view of the intelligence services involved.
The Informal Economy of Intelligence into Terrorism: A Moroccan-Belgian Case-Study 10/11
Copyright:
©2016 Devroe et al.
Citation: Devroe E, Ponsaers P (2016) The Informal Economy of Intelligence into Terrorism: A Moroccan-Belgian Case-Study. Forensic Res Criminol Int
J 2(2): 00051. DOI: 10.15406/frcij.2016.02.00051
Conclusion
The informal economy is more than the inverse of the
formalized economy. It is a dynamic environment. It is less limited
by legal rules, state control, bureaucracy or regulation. On the other
hand the informal market is less visible than the regular economy.
The A.B. case demonstrates that Jihadist networks depend on the
      
support, and the supply of recruits. As Cortright and Lopez [33]
point out, “at the heart of this dynamic of social support is an
informal economy of exchange.” To a large extent this observation
goes also for the exchange of intelligence in the world of counter-
terrorism, being in itself transformed into an informal economy
[34]. The most plausible explanation of the intelligence position
of A.B. lies in the dependent position of intelligence services of
their informants.
The central question we want to answer is to what extent we
can consider the exchange of intelligence in the A.B. case as a form
of informal economy.

of a commodity is determined by the amount of labour invested
in it [4]. The original owner of the intelligence in the case under
study is A.B. If it is true that A.B. was recruited as an informant
           
direct producer of the intelligence, while this would put him in
the position of provocateur. Starting from the assumption of the
position of A.B. as informant for the Belgian State Security, he can
only be considered at most as an intermediate. The intelligence is
not produced by him, but is originating from elsewhere [3].
In the same line of thought, intelligence is not the result of
labour invested in the traditional sense. Even if A.B. was paid for
providing intelligence, this payment was not in relation to the
labour delivered but can be considered as a compensation for the
risks taken. A.B. is in this context not to be considered as engaged
in a real exchange relationship. In any case, intelligence services
pay for information to avoid that which a real mutual and bilateral
     
services gather intelligence, they do not provide it to informants
[35, 36]. This is precisely the reason why informants are normally
paid43.
A.B. denies that he was paid for delivering intelligence. If this is
true, which we cannot check, this means that he was motivated by
other forms of compensation, such as assistance in the pursuit of
his moral or religious objectives. In this context we can speak of an
exchange of “symbolic commodities.” If this was the case, we are
confronted with a more or less “altruistic form” of collaboration
[37]. It is also possible that he acted from a pragmatic or even
opportunistic point of view, which implies a more “egocentric
form” of collaboration. The deliverance of intelligence is in both
situations no real exchange. In such a kind of situation, the actions
of A.B. should be considered as a gift.
Even if we accept that A.B. provided intelligence in exchange for
monetary compensation, he retains control over this intelligence
and is able to exchange it with other parties, such as other foreign
intelligence services. In the case of A.B. several sources mention
43In this context, the discussion concerning the demand of naturalisation
of A.B. and the position the Belgian State Security took, is a debate about
the possibilities of discretion in this regard.
that he worked for different intelligence services at the same time
and should be considered as a double agent [38,39].
          
as an informant by the Belgian State Security services. This kind
of registration is not publicly known and can be considered as
  

informant as unknown outside the Belgian State Security services.

The utility value of an exchange is determined by the capacity
             
exchange of intelligence in the case under study, we are confronted
with a situation where only an extreme small number of buyers or
purchasers is interested. The utility value for that small group (of
intelligence agencies) is very high, since it is precisely the kind
of information they want to gather. The gathering of this type of
intelligence is the reason for their existence, while this intelligence
provides them legitimacy [34].
The purchaser of the intelligence, however, has a problem:
the authenticity and credibility of the intelligence remains
questionable. Only when the purchaser can triangulate the
        
the intelligence in question. The purchaser will look for additional
sources of intelligence, but will be hindered by the limited offer on
the intelligence market.
The exchange value is determined by the level of demand and
supply on the market. In the case of intelligence about terrorism,
the availability and supply of the commodity is very limited and
privileged. To the extent that the same intelligence is no longer
exclusive and shared with other actors on the market, the exchange
value diminishes particularly where intelligence is considered as a
means to position oneself strategically in the informal intelligence
market [40]. Sharing intelligence with other services is potentially
risky, while the triangulation of intelligence is not certain, and it
weakens at the same time the strategic position because of the
loss of exclusivity ownership of the intelligence in question.
These aspects of intelligence exchange determine its market
 
to attract intelligence providers. In this sense the market price
          
On the other hand, the provider of intelligence will search other
purchasers. This gives the provider the opportunity to increase
his income for the same intelligence delivered. From this point of
view providers and purchasers have contradictory interests.
As [35] already stated, criminology has in the past failed to
formulate theories about terrorism and espionage. The study of
this kind of behaviour, committed by agents and organisations
that are prima facie considered both as acceptable and politically
powerful, in terms of an informal economy of exchange relations
can illuminate the apparent contradictions between the legitimate
role of state agents in public security and their adoption of illegal
methods that subsequently undermine this legitimate role, as the
A.B. case rigorously demonstrates.
The Informal Economy of Intelligence into Terrorism: A Moroccan-Belgian Case-Study 11/11
Copyright:
©2016 Devroe et al.
Citation: Devroe E, Ponsaers P (2016) The Informal Economy of Intelligence into Terrorism: A Moroccan-Belgian Case-Study. Forensic Res Criminol Int
J 2(2): 00051. DOI: 10.15406/frcij.2016.02.00051
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