September 23, 2011 / 3:40 PM / 8 years ago

Morocco says thwarts "assassination cell"

RABAT, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Moroccan security has arrested three people, including an active blogger on jihadist websites, who had planned to receive training at an al Qaeda camp abroad in order to carry out attacks in Morocco, the Interior Ministry said on Friday.

The suspects, who were to be trained in camps of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), had “planned to assassinate members of the security services in order to seize their weapons and use them in planned sabotage acts”, the state news agency MAP said, citing a statement from the Interior Ministry.

MAP said the cell was led by “one of the most active individuals on jihadist websites with links to al Qaeda and who managed to forge close relations with leaders of terrorist organisations in Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Iraq and elsewhere”.

The three were “in constant contact with AQIM leaders to supply them with weapons that will help them execute their criminal plan in the kingdom (Morocco) and also to align their operations with the objectives of this terrorist organisation in Morocco,” the ministry said.

Without identifying the suspects, the ministry said they wanted to “undergo military training and commit criminal acts against security sites and western interests once they return to Morocco”.

It did not say where or when the arrests took place. The cell called itself “The Cutting Squadron”, the ministry said. Another member of the cell had been convicted under the country’s “anti-terrorism law”, it added.

A bomb attack on a cafe in the resort of Marrakesh in April raised concern over security in this north African country where violence linked to militancy had otherwise been rare.

Morocco is a staunch Western ally where the ruling monarchy has broadly managed to safeguard a reputation for stability despite facing since February unprecedented anti-establishment protests that were inspired by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt.

(Reporting by Souhail Karam; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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