France: Suspected al-Qaeda cell head arrested

France: Suspected al-Qaeda cell head arrested

French authorities arrested a French-Moroccan man suspected of heading an al-Qaida support cell that planned to send militants to fight in Afghanistan, Iraq and other conflict zones, and was plotting terror attacks in Morocco, they said Thursday.

The suspect, Ahmed Sahnouni, 40, was arrested last week in a Paris suburb and has been brought before a prosecutor, said an official at the DCRI, the French counterespionage agency. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the nature of his job, said Sahnouni is being interrogated.

The Paris prosecutor's office said it filed preliminary charges against Sahnouni for "criminal association with the goal of preparing terrorist actions."

Moroccan police say Sahnouni, born in Casablanca, headed a cell of 24 suspected terrorists arrested last month in the North African kingdom, where they were allegedly plotting large terror attacks.

In an unusually detailed statement, Morocco's Interior Ministry said the cell planned to murder "symbols of the state" and attack foreign interests in the kingdom, a tourism haven and a strong Western ally in fighting terrorism.

It said several of the cell's members were caught on their way to Somalia where they planned to join an Islamist militia. Others were preparing training camps to support al-Qaida militants in North Africa, Moroccan authorities say.


Source: Canadian Press (English), h/t NRP

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