Morocco dismantles ISIS recruitment cell

A Moroccan policeman stands guard at the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation office in Sale, March 23, 2015. (Reuters)

Moroccan authorities said Wednesday they dismantled a cell in the city of Fez that was recruiting fighters for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group in Iraq and Syria.

The interior ministry said the head of the cell maintained strong ties with ISIS leadership and sent Moroccans to training camps in the two countries, where they received intensive training in weapons handling.

“The members of this recruitment cell had received significant foreign funding for the necessary expenses to allow for travel and movement of these fighters,” the ministry statement said, without elaborating.

The arrests were made by the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations, inaugurated this year as part of the kingdom’s beefed up war against terrorism.

They came after jihadists claiming to belong to ISIS killed 21 foreign tourists and a policeman in an attack last month on Tunisia’s Bardo National Museum.

Morocco, which is on guard against such attacks, prides itself on being a bastion against Islamist extremism with its anti-jihadist unit and training of imams to preach tolerance.

Since 2002, more than 130 terrorist cells have been dismantled, 2,720 suspects arrested and 276 plots foiled, the ministry said.

According to the British-based International Centre for the Study of Radicalization, about 2,000 Moroccans are estimated to be fighting with ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Last Update: 06:44 KSA 09:44 - GMT 06:44