Morocco breaks up cell allegedly planning attacks

AP News
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Posted: Jul 21, 2015 11:45 AM

RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Moroccan authorities announced Tuesday the dismantling of an eight-man group that they say had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and was planning attacks inside the country.

The Interior Ministry statement said the suspects were arrested in the northern cities of Tangier and Taounate as well as in the towns of Khouribga and Bouznika to the south and were in contact with the radical group based in Iraq and Syria.

The statement said the cell planned to host IS fighters traveling to Morocco so that they could carry out attacks on security personnel and other targets to destabilize the country.

The men would be traveling on foreign passports. On Friday, security forces announced the arrest of a Syrian carrying a Tunisian passport with alleged links to the Islamic State group.

Police said Tuesday the men arrested also had links to former al-Qaida members who fought in Afghanistan.

Morocco's internal security forces frequently announce the arrest of small cells of IS sympathizers but the group has not been able to carry out an attack on Moroccan soil yet.

Last year, Morocco boosted its state of alert citing IS plans to attack the country and placed foot patrols of army and police around tourist sites and public areas.

The attack in June on a Tunisian beach resort that killed 38 foreign tourists has raised alarm in Morocco as well. That attack was claimed by the Islamic State group.