Morocco and Spain announced on Wednesday the dismantling of a new terrorist cell consisting of six people who were planning to carry out major attacks in the two countries and training their members to slaughter.
The operation came just a week after Spain’s Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido met with his Moroccan counterpart Abdoulwafi Laftit in Rabat and following meetings of senior security officials in the two countries in the wake of deadly attacks in Spain last month.
The arrests were also made nearly three weeks after a group of four Moroccans killed 16 people in two deadly attacks using a truck and knives in Barcelona and another seaside resort in northeastern Spain.
A statement issued by the Moroccan interior ministry on Wednesday said that the Moroccan Central Bureau for Judicial Research of the General Directorate for the Control of the National Territory (Internal Intelligence) managed to dismantle a terrorist cell consisting of five people loyal to ISIS.
The statement added that the cell members were arrested in the area of Beni Shaker in the outskirts of the city of Nador (north of the country), while the Spanish authorities arrested a sixth member, a Spanish of Moroccan origin residing in the city of Melilla.
The ministry stressed that the operation was the fruit of security cooperation between the Moroccan security services and Spanish authorities.
The Spanish interior ministry said in a statement: “An investigation by the Moroccan security services found evidence that this group was planning large-scale terror attacks, holding discreet nighttime meetings during which they carried out physical training and simulated murder by decapitation.”
Police in Spain said the leader of the cell was a 39-year-old Spaniard of Moroccan origin living in Melilla. He was arrested by the security forces while visiting Morocco.
“He used his position as an assistant teacher in a center for reeducating minors to carry out recruitment activities and to radicalize young people in a vulnerable situation,” the ministry said.