Saturday, February 23, 2008

More Arrests in Morocco Plot

Via Al-Jazeera -

A total of 35 people, members of the al-Badil al-Hadari (Civilised Alternative), an Islamist party, have now been arrested in Morocco, over an alleged plot to conduct political assassinations and carry out crimes internationally.

Police also linked its leader to an alleged "terrorist network".

"Based on information provided by individuals in custody, a [new] stock of explosives and detonators had been found in a hideout in Nador [northern Morocco]," a police source said.

Nine Kalashnikov rifles, two machine-guns, seven machine-pistols, 16 handguns and an arsenal of explosives and detonating devices were already seized earlier this week as 32 alleged members of the group were taken into custody on Monday and Tuesday.

Mustapha Moatassim, the party's secretary-general, was among those arrested.Abdelhafid Sriti, correspondent for Al Manar television in Morocco, was also detained.

Mohamed Ayyadi, spokesperson for al-Badil al-Hadari, said: "For us, it is astonishing news because since we founded our party we have made it clear that democracy is our goal and we have proved that ... we were among the first parties to condemn al-Qaeda and the use of violence in politics."

The detainees are accused of planning to kill senior army officers, government ministers and some Moroccan Jews, Chakib Benmoussa, the interior minister, announced on Wednesday.

He told a news conference: "The network has a two-pronged strategy: one for political activity, with al-Badil al-Hadari as its public face, and another clandestine focusing on military action.

"The network set up a military wing named Special Action Group."

Benmoussa said the party had links with an organisation called the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM) and Algeria's Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), which last year changed its name to the Al-Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb.

According to Benmoussa, the network had contacts with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in 2001.

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