Middle East

Morocco busts Syria, Iraq volunteer cell

RABAT: Moroccan police have busted a “terrorist” cell recruiting and sending volunteers to fight alongside Islamists in Syria and Iraq, arresting six people, the Interior Ministry said Wednesday.

Among those arrested in the operation, carried out in the city of Fez in coordination with the domestic intelligence agency, was a Moroccan Islamist formerly held under the country’s anti-terrorist law, according to the ministry statement.

“[This cell] specialized in recruiting and sending Moroccan volunteers to fight in the ranks of terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq ... where they receive military training in the use of weapons and bomb-making techniques,” it said.

Morocco claims to have dismantled many jihadist cells since a wave of suicide bombings in Casablanca in May 2003 killed 33 people, including 18 between 2011 and 2013.

Concerns have grown in Morocco in the past year about the return of battle-hardened Islamists who have gone to fight in Syria.

Intelligence indicated that “some Moroccan combatants who have taken part in the military operations of groups linked to Al-Qaeda ... were determined to return to Morocco to undermine its stability by carrying out terrorist acts,” it said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 26, 2014, on page 8.




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