RABAT, Morocco (AFP) – Moroccan police said Wednesday, December 4, that they had disrupted a jihadist cell and arrested three suspected supporters of Islamic State, in a joint operation with Spain.
Three men were detained in Morocco’s northern Nador region “in coordination with Spanish national police,” while the head of the group was “arrested simultaneously” near Madrid, a statement by Moroccan anti-terror police said.
The suspects, aged between 24 and 39, followed Islamic State group propaganda and organized meetings to “plan terrorist operations in response to repeated calls from ISIS leaders,” the statement said.
Spanish police said a man was arrested in Guadalajara northeast of Madrid.
He is accused of organizing meetings with other radical Islamists around the Spanish enclave of Melilla on Morocco’s north coast and being in contact with jihadists in Syria and Mali, Spanish police said.
The operation also netted electronic equipment, mobile phones, balaclavas and extremist literature, Moroccan anti-terror police said.
Morocco was long spared from jihadist violence, until last year when two Scandinavian tourists were beheaded by ISIS supporters in the High Atlas mountains.
Three men convicted of the murders were sentenced to death, a penalty that has not been implemented in Morocco since 1993.
Moroccan authorities often highlight their anti-terror efforts and their coordination with partners in Europe, particularly Spain.