Morocco’s security services have broken up a militant network that sent volunteers to carry out suicide bombings for al Qaeda in Iraq, and arrested 24 of its members, the official news agency MAP reported.
The group was working with militants in Sweden, Belgium, Syria and Iraq and was recruiting candidates to join al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan and Somalia, MAP quoted the Interior Ministry as saying in a statement.
It said the network had sent 20 volunteers to Iraq and was in the process of recruiting 10 more Moroccan Islamists, Reuters reports.
The group was also planning large attacks in Morocco and intended to meet al Qaeda members to learn from their bomb-making expertise, MAP said.
It said members of the group were arrested in several towns and were still being questioned. It did no specify when the arrests took place or whether those detained had been charged.
Morocco, a staunch ally of the United States, is holding about 1000 Islamists in its jails on terrorism-related charges after suicide bombings in 2003, which led to an anxious security sweep in the normally peaceful North African kingdom.
The government says it has broken up more than 60 militant Islamist cells, some of which had recruited Moroccans to fight for al Qaeda in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Canada court lifts restrictions on Moroccan terror suspect
Canada’s Federal Court lifted restrictions yesterday on an immigrant from Morocco who had been accused of terrorism, imprisoned or under surveillance for six years, but never charged with a specific criminal offense.
Judge Daniele Tremblay-Lamer ordered that all restrictions be removed immediately on Adil Charkaoui, a Montreal resident whom the government has sought to deport on the grounds that he trained at an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan, Reuters reports.
The government’s case was built mainly on classified information provided by Canada’s spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). But the government withdrew this evidence, saying that if it was released, as the court ordered, it would endanger the agency’s sources.
Judge Tremblay-Lamer said the withdrawal wounded the government’s case. In a three-page order, she said the law stated “clearly and unequivocally that a judge cannot make decisions on information and other proof provided by the minister if the minister withdraws this.”
CSIS said yesterday it stood by the accuracy and reliability of the information it submitted in Charkaoui’s case.
“In light of disclosure orders made by the court, the government of Canada decided to withdraw certain classified information. The disclosure of this information would be injurious to national security, and compromise the ability to effectively investigate security threats to Canadians,” CSIS spokeswoman Manon Berube said in a statement.
Charkaoui was arrested in 2003, in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
He had immigrant status but had not attained Canadian citizenship. The government put him in custody and later had his movements restricted under a security certificate, while it sought to deport him.
Ottawa has the option of appealing the decision.
“The government is reviewing the decision. Our objective is to ensure Canadians are safe from terrorist threats. We are examining the impact of the decision on that objective,” Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan stated.
Another Federal Court judge set lighter bail conditions earlier this week for another Muslim alleged to have collaborated with al Qaeda, Algerian Mohamed Harkat.
Meanwhile, a member of a group that has been dubbed the “Toronto 18” pleaded guilty in an Ontario earlier this week. Two other members of the group, charged with planning to bomb Parliament and landmarks in Toronto, have already been sentenced.
Pic: Flag of Morocco