Morocco breaks up ISIS-linked cell which planned attacks

Moroccan police arrest five people suspected of planning cross-border attacks.

Elad Benari ,


Moroccan police said on Wednesday they had broken up a cell linked to the Islamic State (ISIS) group in the port city of Tangiers, arresting five people suspected of planning cross-border attacks, AFP reported.

The suspects were planning "to carry out remote-controlled explosions targeting security installations and personalities, as well as public buildings hosting Moroccan and foreign citizens," said the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ).

The five, aged 22-28, had raised funds and "acquired several products used in the production of homemade bombs", it added.

Security forces seized "bottles containing nitric acid and other suspect liquids as well as nails, electric wires and six gas cylinders" which could be used for bomb-making, said the CBIJ.

They also found knives, military-style uniforms, an ISIS flag and portraits of its chief in the Greater Sahara, Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, reported killed by French forces in mid-September.

Since 2002, Moroccan security services have dismantled more than 2,000 extremist cells and made over 3,500 arrests linked to terrorism, according to BCIJ figures published in February.

Last year, Morocco arrested four suspects allegedly linked to ISIS who were plotting “dangerous and imminent terrorist” attacks.

Morocco has been hit by jihadist attacks in the past, most recently in 2011, when 17 people were killed in Marrakesh, including Israeli citizen Michal Weitzmann Zikri and her husband Masoud Zikri, a native of Morocco.

Previously, an attack in the financial capital Casablanca left 33 dead in 2003.

In 2018, four suspects who pledged allegiance to ISIS were arrested following the murder of two young Scandinavian hikers in southern Morocco.