top of page
  • Joey J Peleg

The Introduction of Cryptocurrency Investigations in Morocco

The conflict between the government of Morocco and the Polisario Front, a Sahrawi nationalist movement, began in the 1970s. After Spain withdrew from its colony in Western Sahara in 1975, both Morocco and Mauritania claimed the territory. The Polisario Front, which had been formed in 1973 with the goal of establishing an independent state in Western Sahara, opposed both claims.

In 1976, the Polisario Front declared the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) as the government-in-exile of the territory. Since then, the conflict has been marked by intermittent periods of violence, including a full-scale war between Morocco and the Polisario Front from 1975 to 1991.

However, the conflict between Morocco and the Polisario Front over the disputed territory of Western Sahara has recently taken an ominous turn after decades of stalemate.

In mid-November 2020, the Polisario Front declared an end to a 1991 UN-brokered cease-fire agreement and a return to armed struggle against Moroccan forces that had entered the Guerguerat coastal border point with Mauritania—a UN-patrolled buffer zone—in contravention of the 1991 deal. The excuses for this turn of events are complex and multifaceted, involving historical, political, and regional factors.

As of now, the Algerian President has expressed his support for the pro-independence movement and has reaffirmed Algeria’s support for the Polisario Front.

The tension surrounding the conflict over Western Sahara is compounded by a variety of regional factors, including the involvement of neighboring countries such as Algeria.

Algeria has long been a staunch supporter of the Polisario Front, including the expressed support for the pro-independence movement and has reaffirmed Algeria’s support for the Polisario Front and providing them with political and military aid and advocating for their cause on the international stage.

This support has led to strained relations between Algeria and Morocco, with both countries accusing each other of interference in their internal affairs.

In addition, other European regional powers have their own interests and positions on the issue, which can further complicate efforts to find a solution. Therefore, the regional factors at play in the conflict over Western Sahara cannot be underestimated and the impact of the conflict on the wider region, including the potential for spillover into neighboring countries.

Funding the Polisario

The Polisario Front is primarily funded through donations and support from sympathetic individuals and mostly rogue governments around the world. Historically, the group has received significant financial and material support from Algeria, which has provided the Polisario with military equipment, training, and logistical support.

As an example, Libya and Cuba and Venezuela, have also provided support to the Polisario in the past.

In addition to these sources of support, the Polisario Front has also been involved in various business and economic activities over the years, including the control of trade routes and the collection of taxes and fees on goods passing through Western Sahara.

It is clear that the group relies heavily on external support in order to sustain its operations.

Overall, the Polisario Front's funding sources are diverse and often difficult to track, given the group's secretive nature and the political sensitivities surrounding the conflict in Western Sahara, as previously mentioned.


Algeria has had a significant crypto connection in recent years. In 2018, the Algerian government effectively banned the use of cryptocurrency by issuing a public warning about the risks associated with crypto trading and declaring it illegal for any financial institution to deal in cryptocurrency. Despite this, the use of cryptocurrency has continued to grow in Algeria, particularly in the context of remittances and international trade.

Algeria is home to a number of cryptocurrency mining operations and there have been reports of individuals and groups using cryptocurrency for illegal purposes in Algeria, including for online scams and fraud and reports that the Polisario Front has used cryptocurrency to fund its activities, and that Algeria may have played a role in facilitating these transactions.

However, these reports are difficult to prove, and there is no clear evidence linking the Polisario Front and Algeria to any specific cryptocurrency-related activities as of yet other than intelligence sources.

In addition, the Polisario Front is reportedly linked to Hezbollah, a Lebanese organization involved in an extensive financial network with the Polisario.

Tehran and Hezbollah are said to be entering the region through their connections with the Polisario Front. After the arrest of a prominent leader, the Lebanese organization reportedly began threatening revenge and started sending weapons and military personnel to train Polisario members and prepare hostile operations against Morocco.

Iran has long sought to expand its influence in the Maghreb and is seeking to strengthen relations with countries in the region, such as Algeria and Mauritania.

The use of cryptocurrency by non-state actors, including political and militant organizations, is a growing concern for governments and law enforcement agencies around the world, and in this case, the Moroccan Government has started to introduce the ability to use cryptocurrency forensic intelligence tools and experts, to try to find the source of funds and where the Polisario hides its illegally gained terrorist associated funds that is most probably concealed on the crypto blockchain.

55 views0 comments
bottom of page