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Page last updated at 02:52 GMT, Wednesday, 11 June 2008 03:52 UK

Morocco jails terror cell members

By James Copnall
BBC News, Rabat

Two members of the Tetouan Cell arrive in court near Rabat in Morocco. Photo: May 2008
The town of Tetouan is known as a hotbed of radical Islam

A court in Morocco has convicted 29 men of forming a terror group with intent to carry out attacks.

The members of the so-called Tetouan Cell were also found guilty of holding unauthorised public meetings and recruiting Moroccans to fight in Iraq.

They received prison sentences between one and eight years.

The Moroccan authorities believe the men had links to al-Qaeda and radical Islamic groups in Morocco and across North Africa.

The defendants' lawyers had argued that recruiting volunteers to fight in Iraq was not a crime under Moroccan law.

Hunger strike

The state press agency, which announced the news, highlighted the fact that one of the group has Swedish citizenship, having lived there for three decades before returning to Tetouan.

The town in northern Morocco has gained a reputation as a hotbed of radical Islam. Five of the seven men who carried out the Madrid bombings in 2004 prayed at the same mosque in Tetouan.

The town faces the problems affecting most of Morocco - high levels of unemployment, and the rising cost of living.

There are several other high profile cases involving alleged terrorists in front of the courts at the moment, and there are already almost 1,000 radical Islamists in Moroccan jails.

In recent months many of them have gone on hunger strike to protest at what they say are inhuman conditions.


SEE ALSO
Moroccan terror trial postponed
25 May 07 |  Africa
Country profile: Morocco
04 Apr 08 |  Country profiles


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