Taking tea with a terrorist
Moez Garsallaoui in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region in 2008. Photo/CNN
October 17th, 2012
04:44 PM ET

Taking tea with a terrorist

By Paul Cruickshank

He didn't look like a hardened terrorist. A short, meek man with a neatly cropped beard and glasses, Moez Garsallaoui was shy and courteous. He served me and a CNN crew sweet Moroccan tea and north African cakes in the living room of the pinewood Swiss chalet he shared with his Belgian-Moroccan wife.

That was in 2006. Fast forward to the present: A posting on the Shumukh al-Islam Jihadist forum Monday said Garsallaoui had been killed in "a cowardly, treacherous raid" somewhere in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. He was 44.

In the intervening six years, he had become a jihadist of some standing, and may have influenced the young Frenchman who carried out a string of shootings in southwest France earlier this year.

"We received the painful news about the killing of another hero of the heroes of this Ummah, and one of its best," the posting by a militant calling himself Abu al-Laith al-Waziri stated, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group.

The world's nuclear detective: the case file on IAEA's Khammar Mrabit
November 15th, 2011
07:07 AM ET

The world's nuclear detective: the case file on IAEA's Khammar Mrabit

Dr. Khammar Mrabit, Director, IAEA Office of Nuclear Security

By Senior National Security Producer Suzanne Kelly

Editor's note: This is part of a Security Clearance series, Case File. CNN Senior National Security Producer Suzanne Kelly profiles key members of the security and intelligence community.

With potential targets all over the world, business is good for the world's top nuclear detective.

As director of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Nuclear Security Office, Moroccan-born nuclear expert Khammar Mrabit helps nations prevent, detect and respond to the theft of nuclear and other radioactive material. He also helps identify acts of sabotage and monitors the illicit trafficking of such material. FULL POST

Filed under: Case File • IAEA • Morocco • Nuclear • Terrorism
October 21st, 2011
08:51 AM ET

Gadhafi’s demise and the Arab Spring

By Tim Lister

Three gone (Gadhafi, Mubarak, Ben Ali), two holding on in the face of daily protests (Assad, Saleh), two more (Kings Abdullah of Jordan and Mohammed of Morocco) trying to stay ahead of the curve of protest. After ten months of the Arab Spring, the region is still in the throes of a heady and unpredictable transformation.

Gadhafi’s demise, after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Zine Abedine Ben Ali in Tunisia, means that three rulers in power collectively for 95 years are gone. Scholar and author Fouad Ajami, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, says that 2011 “is to the Arabs what 1989 was to the communist world. The Arabs are now coming into ownership of their own history and we have to celebrate.”

Protesters in Yemen and Syria may be re-energized by the pictures from Sirte showing the almost pathetic end of a ruler whose flowing robes and uniforms had long given him an aura of invincibility. Demonstrators in Syrian cities celebrated Gadhafi’s death and warned President Bashar al Assad that he would be next. As one Syrian activist told CNN: "The clear fate of all who kill his people is to end up under the feet of the nation."

Lebanon’s former Prime Minister, Saad al Hariri, (no friend of the Syria regime) said: "Any Arab citizen, watching the course of events in Libya, cannot but think of the popular revolutionary movement that is taking place in Syria.”

There has been one refrain common across the Arab world this year – from the dusty streets of Sidi Bouzid in Tunisia where it all began to the barricades that litter Homs in Syria today. "The fear is gone, the people have put away their fear” – words spoken by Tunisian activist Sana Ben Achour in January that have echoed across the region ever since. It was quickly followed by a chant: “The people want the downfall of the regime.” FULL POST

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Filed under: Arab Spring • Assad • Egypt • Gadhafi • Libya • Morocco • Syria • Yemen
Know your surface-to-air missiles
October 17th, 2011
04:43 PM ET

The U.S. field guide to Libya's missing weapons

The U.S. has started distributing this "MANPADS Recognition Guide" to countries bordering Libya as part of the expanded effort to help track down and secure surface-to-air missles and related equipment that have been looted from Libyan weapons bunkers.  The document is being provided so border guards can more easily identify the different parts and prevent weapons smuggling.

The pamphlet has been distributed in various languages including English, Arabic and French.  Security Clearance was provided an English-language version of the pamphlet by the State Department.

Filed under: Algeria • Diplomacy • Egypt • Gadhafi • Libya • Morocco • NTC
July 1st, 2011
04:39 PM ET

Moroccans vote in watershed referendum

By Senior State Department Producer, Elise Labott

Today Moroccans voted in a referendum on new constitution which King Mohammed VI has promised will if approved usher in an era of greater freedoms.

I just returned from Morocco, where there is some reason to be hopeful that amid the uncertain course of the Arab Spring, there may be some blossoms of progress.

While I was there King Mohammed VI unveiled the new constitution, developed in coordination with a variety of political parties and civil society groups. The new, elected government that would result from this constitution would be accountable to parliament, have an independent judiciary and provide equal rights for women and minorities.

July 1st, 2011
08:40 AM ET

Morocco referendum: what's at stake

CNN's Elise Labott reporting from Morocco on supporters and opponents of the constitutional reforms that go to a referendum Friday. Her full report

July 1st, 2011
08:28 AM ET

Moroccans vote on weakening King's powers

Moroccans began voting Friday in a referendum on constitutional reforms that would weaken the king's powers and boost those of the government. Full story here

Filed under: Hot Spot Dispatch • Morocco