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Morocco says it has dismantled ‘terrorist cell’

Moroccan authorities have expressed concern about the proliferation of extremist groups

Published: Updated:

Moroccan authorities said Thursday they had dismantled a “terrorist cell” operating in several cities that included people trained in the use of firearms and explosives.

North Africa has been on heightened alert in recent years as regional jihadist groups have grown more powerful and as the turmoil in Libya following Muammar Qaddafi’s 2011 overthrow has left the vast and mostly desert region awash with weapons.

Morocco’s interior ministry said the operation had netted an individual who had been detained in the past on terrorism charges and who was now coordinating nationwide operations, including fundraising and recruiting militants.

The ministry did not specify the number of people arrested nor the cities in which the operation took place.

Morocco has announced the dismantling of several alleged terrorist cells this year, and authorities have expressed concern about the proliferation of extremist groups.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the global terror network’s North Africa affiliate, released a video in September calling for jihad in Morocco, which it referred to as a “kingdom of corruption and despotism.”

Morocco, an ally of France and the United States, remains haunted by a wave of attacks in May 2003 claimed by al-Qaeda in which 33 people were killed in Casablanca.