The Moroccan interior ministry said on Thursday it has dismantled a network responsible for recruiting jihadists and sending them to fight in Syria and Iraq for the Islamic State group.
“The operation, based on detailed investigations carried out in close collaboration with Spain, stems from a proactive security approach aimed at battling terrorist threats,” a ministry statement said.
The cell’s members “were preparing to carry out terrorist acts within the kingdom (of Morocco) using firearms and explosives,” it said.
The Spanish interior ministry said the network operated in the Moroccan cities of Tetouan, Fnideq and Fes n addition to Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in the north.
Morocco says it has dismantled many jihadist cells — including 18 from 2011 to 2013 — since a series of suicide attacks that killed 33 people in Casablanca in May 2003.
Anxiety over security has grown in the past year as Moroccan Islamists have returned from fighting in Syria. Their total is estimated at more than 1,000.
The authorities have often warned that “Moroccan fighters who have taken part in operations led by Al-Qaeda-linked groups have decided to return to Morocco” to carry out “terrorist acts”.