Terrorist cell dismantled in Morocco

Security forces arrest three terror suspects in Inzegane and Ait Melloul who swore their allegiance to IS leader before planning to carry out terrorist operations in Morocco.

RABAT – Moroccan authorities announced on Monday they dismantled a suspected terrorist cell loyal to the Islamic State group in the latest anti-terror operation.

The FBI-like Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ) said it broke up a terrorist cell consisting of three suspects, whose ages range from 26 to 28 years old, and were active in the cities of Inezgane and Ait Melloul.

Preliminary investigations confirmed that the leader of the suspected cell and the other two suspects swore their allegiance to the IS leader before they planned to carry out terrorist operations aimed at destabilizing Morocco’s security and stability, said the BCIJ in a statement.

The search and tracking procedures indicated that the members of the terrorist cell were searching for firearms, materials and preparations used in the manufacture of IEDs, in parallel with their praise of the terrorist operations of IS in a number of foreign countries, it added.

Large and medium-sized white weapons, in addition to electronic devices and manuscripts of an extremist nature were seized during the anti-terror operation.

Until 2018, Morocco had been spared jihadist attacks since 2011, when a bomb attack on a cafe in Marrakesh's famed Jamaa El Fna Square killed 17 people, most of them European tourists.

Two young Scandinavian women were beheaded while on a hiking trip in Morocco's High Atlas mountains last December.

Danish student Louisa Vesterager Jespersen and her hiking companion 28-year-old Norwegian Maren Ueland, nature lovers who were training to be guides, were on a Christmas holiday hiking trip when they were killed.

Attacks in the North African country's financial capital Casablanca killed 33 people in 2003.

Those attacks - carried out by 12 suicide operatives who came from one of Casablanca's main shanty towns - greatly affected public opinion.

Morocco has since improved its security and legal framework, alongside boosting supervision of religious affairs and anti-terror cooperation with other states.