Morocco breaks up suspected terrorist cell

Five suspects arrested in Safi had sworn allegiance to Islamic State group, planned to attack Morocco’s security.

RABAT – Moroccan authorities dismantled Friday a suspected terrorist cell composed of five extremists, including a former detainee under the anti-terrorist law in the city of Safi, according to the Interior Ministry.

The operation, which was carried out by the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations (BCIJ), resulted in the seizure of electronic devices, knives and extremist manuscripts, the ministry said in a statement.

“The suspects, between the ages of 21 and 36 years, had sworn allegiance to the Islamic State group and planned to join its ranks in the Syrian-Iraqi scene in coordination with one of its members on the ground, before expressing their willingness to adhere to its destructive agenda in order to attack the security and stability of the Kingdom,” it said.

One of the defendants tried, during his presence in a sub-Saharan country, to obtain a recommendation to join one of the groups affiliated with IS which is active in the Sahel region, according to the same source.

Compared with other countries in North Africa, Morocco has been largely insulated from militant attacks.

The four main suspects arrested in connection with the killing in December of two Scandinavian women near the tourist hub of Marrakech had pledged allegiance to IS in a video.

In April 2011, 17 people were killed in the bombing of a restaurant in Marrakech.

In 2017 and 2018, Morocco said it dismantled 20 militant cells planning attacks in the country.