Morocco: 5 suspected terrorists linked to Islamic State arrested

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Five suspects affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) jihadist organisation, who were planning attacks on security forces and government officials, have been arrested in a new anti-terrorism sweep in Morocco.

The five men, aged between 21 and 44, were apprehended in separate but simultaneous operations in several towns and villages in the west and south of the country, the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ), which is in charge of counter-terrorism, said in a statement. The suspects were taken into custody.

These "extremists are involved in inciting and preparing the execution of terrorist projects and have undertaken the collection of extremist content on how to make explosive devices," the statement said. They allegedly identified security and military sites and government facilities for the purpose of targeting them.

According to the preliminary investigation, they were also planning "physical liquidations" of members of the security forces and the government "in addition to targeting financial and banking establishments in order to secure the resources and financing necessary for terrorist operations," the BCIJ said.

During the searches of the suspects' homes, the anti-terrorist police seized writings advocating the EI as well as an inventory of products used in the manufacture of explosives and knives. Electronic equipment was seized.

Although the Cherifian kingdom has been spared in recent years by violence linked to jihadist groups, the security services regularly report anti-IED raids and foiled attack projects. The latest was the arrest in early March of a man suspected of preparing attacks on Moroccan territory, particularly targeting foreigners.

This operation led to the arrest in Belgium of a Belgian national of Moroccan origin suspected of being involved in the preparation of "imminent terrorist projects" in Morocco.

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