Direction Générale des Études et de la Documentation (DGED), the Moroccan foreign intelligence and counter-espionage service, is one of the most important Moroccan secret services, founded in 1973 in the wake of the two failed coups of 1971 and 1972 on the model of the French secret service Service de Documentation Extérieure et de Contre-Espionnage, abbreviated as SDECE. The DGED is a military organization directly under the control of the King.
Since its creation, the DGED has been run exclusively by army officers. Colonel Ahmed Dlimi is regarded as the founder of this intelligence service, where he was in charge from 1973 until his death in 1983. General Abdelhak el Kadiri succeeded him and stayed on until 2001, in which year he was succeeded by the Rif born General Ahmed El Harchi, who was the last soldier to head the DGED. In 2005 the king appointed his former classmate from the Royal Collège, Mohamed Yassine Mansour, as head of the DGED.
In principle, DGED operates outside Morocco and is therefore responsible for supervising the political and economic activities of Moroccans living abroad, as well as collecting information for various Moroccan intelligence services. Morocco has some 15 intelligence services in total. DGED is represented in all Moroccan embassies or consulates. In addition, employees of Maghreb Arabe Presse (the Moroccan State Press Office) are also responsible for sending uncensored confidential notes to DGED. Once all the filters of the hierarchy have been passed, DGED messages are sent directly to the Royal Palace of Rabat.
DGED is made up of three main directorates: the executive directorate in charge of field operations and rapid intervention operations with special units, the anti-espionage directorate and the communications directorate in charge of the coordination and monitoring of means of communication between all departments in the service.
DGED cooperates with foreign intelligence services in the field of security and terrorism-related matters, including exchange of information on specific Moroccans sought by foreign intelligence services.
DGED’s budget is estimated at an annual amount of USD 1 billion. In addition, the service has a so-called ‘black box’ or secret pot from which the informants of the service are paid. According to a blog article published in 2013, the DGED has 4000 employees and more than half of them are military and 5% are women. According to the same article, DGED’s special units have between 250 and 300 members and hundreds of informants work for the service in Europe.
Police Brigadier Rédouan Lemhaouli of the Rotterdam-Rijnmond police force was dismissed by his employer in 2008 for “serious dereliction of duty”, following an official report from the Dutch secret service AIVD. In the same case Mohamed Zyad was dismissed, he worked as a desk clerk at the police station in The Hague on a voluntary basis.
The court in The Hague sentenced Rédouan Lemhaouli to 240 hours community service for passing on secret information from the Dutch police systems to the Moroccan services. The Moroccan French-language weekly TelQuel paid attention to this subject with an article in which can be read that there is a Moroccan organisation established in the Netherlands called ‘Voice of Moroccan Democrats in the Netherlands’ (SMDN) that deals with the defence of these Moroccan spies.
In March 2019, the Spanish media revealed that Morocco was behind the terrorist attacks of 2004 in Madrid. These terrorist attacks killed 191 people and wounded 1800 people.
In Germany, the name of the Moroccan intelligence service also appeared during the terrorist attack on 19 December 2016, in which 12 people died and 56 were injured when a truck drove into people’s homes at a Christmas market. According to German media, the Tunisian Bilel Ben Ammar is an agent of the Moroccan secret service. Bilel Ben Ammar is said to have helped the attacker to escape from the scene of the terrorist act.
In 2018, the Belgian authorities arrested the Moroccan woman Kaoutar Fal and expelled her from the country because of a threat to Belgian state security.
Translated by Najat M.