Moroccan security forces have dismantled a “terrorist cell” affiliated to the Takfiri Daesh militant group and poised to carry out attacks in the North African country, Interior Ministry says.
In a statement released on Friday, the ministry said nine members of the cell were arrested in towns across the country, including Kenitra near the capital, Rabat.
The suspects were “at an advanced stage of preparing attacks on sensitive sites” in Morocco, it added.
“The suspects have revealed that they had received instructions from Daesh to target sensitive sites in the kingdom with explosives.”
The detainees had ties to Moroccan citizens fighting for Daesh in Syria and Libya, and that arms and munitions were seized during their arrests, it said.
Morocco’s Interior Minister Mohamed Hassad said on July 27 that around 300 citizens from the country had been killed over the past two years while fighting alongside Takfiri militant groups in Iraq and neighboring Syria.
Hassad stated that a total of 1,350 Moroccans had left the country since 2013, of whom 286 were killed as they joined the ranks of militant outfits in the two crisis-hit Middle Eastern countries.
Earlier this year, Moroccan authorities said they had arrested members of a “terrorist cell” that had pledged allegiance to Daesh terrorists and planned to carry out a string of assassinations in the country.
The terrorists were nabbed during a series of raids carried out in several cities, including Agadir, 546 kilometers (339 miles) southwest of Rabat in the south, Boujaad in the center, Tangiers in the north, Ain Harouda near Casablanca as well as Western Sahara region.
Daesh controls some parts of Iraq and Syria. The extremist group has also claimed responsibility for a number of terror attacks in other countries, including Tunisia and Libya.
The number of foreigners fighting alongside Takfiri terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria has more than doubled since last year to at least 27,000, according to a new report by the New York-based intelligence consultancy, Soufan Group, on December 8.
“The foreign fighter phenomenon in Iraq and Syria is truly global. Daesh has seen success beyond the dreams of other terrorist groups that now appear conventional and even old-fashioned, such as al-Qaeda,” the Moroccan Interior Ministry said.
European countries have repeatedly expressed concern over Daesh’s influence across the continent. Authorities fear that the European militants will use their combat skills against their countries upon returning home.