The newly set up Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ) has dismantled a jihadist cell at Selouane in the region of Nador, close to the Spanish enclave of Melilla, and arrested six of its members.
According to the Moroccan Ministry of the Interior which made the announcement, a seventh individual with close ties with this cell was arrested in the Netherlands after Moroccan authorities provided the Dutch side with accurate information on his actiMoroccovities.
The man of Moroccan origin was seeking to get “firearms and explosives” to use against security forces in the Netherlands.
The cell members, “followers of the jihadist thought”, were planning the assassination of people having religious beliefs different from those of the Islamic State group.
“They used to hold secret meetings to plan their terrorist plots and simultaneously participated in paramilitary exercises in one of Selouane’s neighboring forests, to be ready for any possible confrontation with the security forces” said the Interior Ministry in a release.
Concurrently with the announcement, the IS group claimed responsibility for the attack perpetrated early Monday against Morocco’s embassy in the Libyan capital city, Tripoli, which is under the control of the Islamists.
The attack was condemned by Morocco, the international community and the UN as a blatant violation of international law and diplomatic norms.
The Tobruk-based Libyan government also condemned the attack saying this act of violence will not affect the brotherly relations between the two countries. Morocco is hosting the UN-backed dialogue between representatives of the two rival governments controlling the country.
Hundreds of Moroccans, 1,500 according to some estimates, have joined the ranks of Salafist and jihadist groups fighting in Syria and other hot spots. The phenomenon is very worrying for Moroccan security forces which fear that these fighters, trained to handling weapons and explosives, might set up local terrorist groups once back home.
Their vigilance enabled to dismantle several terrorist cells since the beginning of the year, and on March 22, just days after it was officially set up, under the tutorship of the Directorate of Territorial Surveillance, as a new entity to fight terrorism, the Central office of Judicial Investigation arrested 13 members of a cell that were planning to strike, in the name of the IS group, members of the civil society, politicians and other public figures.