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Morocco dismantles recruitment cell for Iraq

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RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Moroccan police dismantled a nine-person cell recruiting volunteers to fight with the radical Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, the Interior Ministry said in a statement Thursday.

The network was operating in the Mediterranean city of Tetouan, Fez and Fnideq, a small town near the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, raising funds and sending people to Syria and Iraq, the police said. A statement from the Spanish Interior Ministry, which was involved in the investigation, said the network also operated in its North African enclave of Ceuta.

While Morocco has experienced few terrorist attacks, it has become a fertile recruiting ground for jihadi networks, sending fighters to places like Syria and Mali with authorities finding new cells every few months.

In May and June, Moroccan police dismantled two other recruitment cells, also based out of Fez and on the Mediterranean coast, while Spain has arrested dozens of recruiters in recent years, many operating out of its North African enclaves.

Some of the recruits were planning on using their training to return to Morocco and carry out bombing attacks, the Moroccan statement added.

Morocco's Interior Ministry says that 1,212 Moroccans belong to terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria, including the Islamic State group. At least 100 have been arrested on their return.

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