Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation has dismantled a heavily armed 10-member terror cell that was active in Essaouira, Meknes and Sidi Kacem, the Interior Ministry announced on Thursday.
A French national was among the cell members, the Ministry said, adding that the anti-terrorist brigade of the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ,) called Morocco’s FBI, were able to nab the ringleader of the cell at a residence at El Jadida, a port city on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, to the south of Casablanca.
During the cell dismantling operation, the BCIJ forces seized sizeable quantity of weapons including four pistols, a rifle equipped with viewfinder, and 13 tear-gas bombs.
The cell reportedly was planning attacks against some strategic institutions at the request of the Islamic State.
This is the second major arrest of terrorists this month by the BCIJ. One week ago, four men known to security forces were arrested. The men from the cities of Meknes, Tetouan, Martil and Akouray (central and northern Morocco) were plotting a series of targeted attacks in the Kingdom.
Morocco has become a major ally for Western countries thanks to its successful war on terror based on a global approach including prevention, anticipation, education, control of the religious field, monitoring of cyber activities, rehabilitation of Salafist inmates, eradication of terrorism roots and international cooperation.
Morocco’s role was vital for the French Intelligence services in the killing of ringleader of the November 13 coordinated attacks in Paris which killed 130 people.
Following this feat, King Philip of Belgium had requested Morocco’s assistance in the fight against terrorism and called for a closer cooperation between the two countries in matters of security and intelligence sharing.
Spain is also relying on the help of Moroccan intelligence services to foil terror plots.
In a recent interview with French Le Figaro, director of BCIJ, Abdelhak El Khayame, said Morocco’s cooperation with Western intelligence services is longstanding and excellent as terrorism is “our common enemy.” He recalled that Moroccan security services provided to their foreign partners highly operational intelligence that enabled the destruction of training camps such as the Khalden camp in Afghanistan, destroyed by US aircraft in 2011, and detection of terrorist plots that targeted sensitive sites in some European countries such as the Basilica of Bologna or the Paris police station. The intelligence sharing also enabled the seizure of sizeable quantities of weapons, including in France and Belgium.
Moroccan authorities claim they have dismantled about 140 terrorist cells since 2002, foiled hundreds of terrorist plans and arrested over 2,200 suspects.