Zawahiri became commander of Al Qaida after the U.S. assassination of Al
Qaida founder Osama bin Laden in May. Officials said Zawahiri, an
Egyptian, has sought to expand Al Qaida operations in North Africa and the
The police statement said the Al Qaida cell, allegedly financed by
credit card fraud, planned attacks against Western facilities in Morocco, a
reference to embassies and consulates, Middle East Newsline reported. The cell was also said to have
targeted foreign companies, expatriates and intended to attack a prison.
Officials said the cell was linked to a bombing of a tourist cafe in
Marrakesh in April in which 14 people were killed. They said cell
members were in contact with the cafe bomber through the Internet for help
in assembling explosives.
This marked the capture of at least the third suspected Al Qaida cell in
Morocco in 2011. On Sept. 23, the Interior Ministry announced the capture of
a three-member cell linked to Al Qaida and in contact with Islamic
insurgents in Libya.
Meanwhile, officials in London said Spain had broken up an alleged Al Qaida cell.
Officials said Spanish authorities arrested five Algerians suspected of
being members of Al Qaida Organization in the Islamic Maghreb. They said the
five were believed to have been financing an AQIM cell in North Africa.
"The suspects were also suspected of being linked to Islamist extremists
in France, Italy and Switzerland," the Spanish Interior Ministry said.
On Sept. 27, the ministry said the arrests of the suspected AQIM members
took place in four towns in the northern Basque and Navarra regions. The
statement said the five detainees, found with computer files, raised money
and sent the funds to AQIM in Algeria.
Officials said AQIM has sought to establish cells in Spain and
neighboring states, including France and Italy. They said AQIM was believed
to have been using Europe for recruitment, fundraising and operational