Morocco arrests 24 'terrorists'

2009-09-24 07:38

Rabat - The security services in Morocco have arrested 24 members of a "terrorist network" linked to al-Qaeda that recruited volunteers for suicide bombings in Iraq, the interior ministry said on Wednesday.

In a statement carried by the official MAP news agency, it said the network co-ordinated "with terrorists in Sweden, Belgium and the Syria-Iraq zone" and also sought recruits for al-Qaeda to fight in Afghanistan and Somalia.

The suspects - now being questioned by police - were arrested in several cities in Morocco, said the ministry, which did not specify the date when they were apprehended.

According to the interior ministry, those arrested were also planning to carry out "terrorist acts" inside Morocco, and to that end were preparing to welcome al-Qaeda specialists to help assemble explosive devices.

In recent weeks, the judicial authorities in Morocco have been dealing with a number of cases involving suspected members of networks described as terrorist operations.

On September 3, 38 people suspected of belonging to a network that recruited Moroccans for Iraq and Algeria appeared before an anti-terrorist court in Sale, the twin city of the capital Rabat.

Members of that alleged network, dismantled in July 2008, came from Tangiers and five other cities in the north and northeast of the North African kingdom.

Police say the suspects intended to join "terrorist groups" in desert camps run by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb before proceeding to Iraq.

On September 2, the court in Sale postponed to early October a hearing into another case involving 43 people charged under anti-terrorist legislation and suspected of links with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.