Morocco dismantles terror network

24 suspects were allegedly preparing to fight in Iraq, Afghanistan.

Terror suspect 311 (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Terror suspect 311
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Moroccan security services dismantled a cell of 24 suspected terrorists with ties to al-Qaida who are believed to have been plotting killings and attacks and preparing to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, the official news agency said Monday.
The suspects were rounded up in recent days after some members of the alleged cell assaulted a police officer in the city of Casablanca, Morocco's economic capital, the MAP news agency said.
The suspects "were preparing to commit murders and acts of sabotage in the country, including against security services and foreign interests in Morocco," MAP said, quoting a statement from the Interior Ministry.
Four of those arrested had already served prison time on terror-related charges, the agency said. Some of the men were being interrogated by a prosecutor, it said.
The Interior Ministry said some cell members were getting ready to head to Iraq and Afghanistan to battle foreign troops there. Other suspects were on the verge of joining Islamist militants in Somalia and in the Sahara and Sahel desert regions, where an al-Qaida offshoot known as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, has been increasingly active in recent months.
AQIM is accused of kidnapping a French national and his Algerian driver in Niger last week.
A tourism haven and a strong Western ally, Morocco has stepped up efforts to crack down on suspected terrorists since a string of suicide bombings killed at least 45 people in Casablanca in 2003. Dozens of people have been arrested since and several hundred suspects await trial on terror-related charges.