Rabat (Morocco) (AFP) - Morocco has largely avoided the Islamist-related violence rocking much of the region, but a recent Al-Qaeda video calling for jihad prompted authorities to react furiously, reflecting the kingdom's security fears.
The video, which also denounced corruption and lashed out at King Mohamed VI -- contrasting Morocco's sprawling slums with his vast wealth -- led to an independent journalist being arrested and charged with inciting terrorism for posting a link to the website of El Pais, which carried the video.
The government also threatened to prosecute the Spanish newspaper.
Analysts say the kingdom wants to reaffirm its zero tolerance policy towards jihadist activity, amid rising concerns about Moroccans being recruited to join Islamist fighters in Syria.
"The palace's reaction likely reflects its fears ... over the number of Moroccans joining the fight in Syria, since the kingdom was thought to be relatively insulated from the issue of foreign fighters and jihadist returnees," said Vish Sakthivel from the Washington Institute, a US think tank.
The number of Moroccan Islamists battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime is hard to know, but estimates run as high as 1,000, with around 90 having been killed so far, according to official figures.
North Africa expert William Lawrence underlines that this is a region-wide phenomenon, citing estimates of around 250 Algerians and 450 Tunisians thought to have been killed in Syria, raising concerns in both countries.