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Morocco arrests suspected Islamic State members

August 22, 2014

RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Morocco announced on Friday the arrest of two suspected militants seeking to join the Islamic State group as the country is in a heightened state of alert over fears of a terrorist attack.

The statement Friday from the Interior Ministry said that the men arrested had contacts with foreign extremists and were seeking to train in IS camps before returning to Morocco to carry out attacks.

On July 16, the government announced a heightened state of alert over fears of a terrorist attack, especially from Moroccans fighting abroad, and for the past week anti-aircraft missile batteries have been seen around the airports of Casablanca, Tangiers, Marrakech and key refineries and power plants.

The Algerian military also said that it had mobilized additional resources on the borders to confront the heightened terrorist threat coming from neighboring Libya.

Both the Algerian and the Moroccan media have singled out the threat from militants linked either to al-Qaida’s North Africa branch or to IS in Libya, which is convulsed with battles between Islamists and other militias, speculating that extremists will use it as a launching pad for attacks on other North African countries.

The Algerian military is using uncharacteristically strong language to describe the rising terrorist threat.

“There have been dangerous developments characterized by increasing acts of violence and the worrisome deterioration of the security situation on our eastern frontiers,” said an editorial Friday in the Algerian army’s magazine, Al-Jaish. “We have mobilized all forces to confront any attempts to infiltrate our borders and confront the various threats, especially the terrorist one.”

The Moroccan Interior Ministry said the men arrested were connected to a network in the central city of Fez, where several cells allegedly recruiting fighters were dismantled in May, June and again on Aug. 14.

It said some 1,212 Moroccans are fighting with extremists groups in Syria and Iraq.

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Associated Press writer Aomar Ouali contributed to this report from Algiers, Algeria.

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