An Algerian court has sentenced three Moroccans to three years’ imprisonment for plotting to join al Qaeda insurgents in Iraq, Algeria’s official news agency said.
The three crossed illegally from Morocco into Algeria and were arrested last year after Algerian security services intercepted a cellphone conversation between one of them and an Algerian militant called Mohamed Aghbalou, the APS new agency reported.
Aghbalou was to take the three Moroccans to Islamist militant strongholds in northern Algeria and from there they were to travel to Iraq to join al Qaeda, the agency said, quoting a judicial source.
The three Moroccans, who were sentenced earlier this week, were identified as Yacine Bouheltit, Bilel Al-Aloui and Mohamed Al-Hamedi.
Algeria is emerging from a conflict between government forces and Islamist militants in which about 200 000 people were killed, according to estimates by international non-governmental groups.
The violence has subsided dramatically in the past few years but al Qaeda’s North African wing remains active, carrying out sporadic attacks on government targets.
Algeria has jailed several militants in the past few years for planning to travel to Iraq.