RABAT, (Reuters) – Morocco’s security services rounded up a dangerous gang of radical Islamists linked to al Qaeda that planned to carry out attacks in the north African country, state news agency MAP reported on Friday.
The network’s 15 members, arrested in towns across Morocco, had got hold of chemicals and electronic components required to make explosives, it cited police sources as saying. “The members of this structure, known as “Fath al Andalous” (Conquest of Andalusia), planned to carry out attacks in Morocco and had formed operational links with foreign extremists who have pledged allegiance to the al Qaeda organisation,” it added.
Security analysts say rebels in Algeria with links to al Qaeda are trying to step up cooperation with Islamist radicals in neighbouring states where poverty, unemployment and alienation from politics can be exploited by armed groups seeking to recruit disillusioned youths.
Since suicide bombings killed 45 people in Casablanca five years ago, Moroccan authorities have rounded up thousands of Islamists suspected of planning to overthrow the secular-minded monarchy. Hundreds have been jailed.
Seven men blew themselves up in Casablanca in March and April last year, killing themselves and a police officer.