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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Morocco jails Islamists for Qaeda ties, attack plans

RABAT, Feb 3(Reuters) - A Moroccan court on Friday jailed eight Islamists for up to 10 years for plotting attacks and belonging to the al Qaeda network, court officials and lawyers said.

The court in Sale, a twin city to Rabat, convicted Ben Moujane Mohamed for "belonging to al Qaeda and preparing terrorist attacks".

Mohamed, who was captured in 2002 by the U.S. military in Afghanistan and jailed at Guantanamo Bay prison, was handed over to Morocco early last year.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Friday, Sale court officials and lawyers said.

The court, in a separate case, condemned six Islamists to between one and 10 years for plotting attacks and attempting to get military training with al Qaeda-linked guerrillas in Algeria. Algerian authorities seized the six men early in 2006 before they joined the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) which led an insurgency in Algeria.

Last month, the GSPC adopted the name Al Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb, saying it had the approval of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden for the change.

In another case, Islamist Anouar Majrar was jailed for seven years for "preparing terrorist attacks with the aim of undermining public order".

Majrar had worked in France as a waiter before returning home in 2005.

Morocco has been on alert since 2003 when suicide bombings killed 45 people in Casablanca.

The authorities said police had arrested more than 3,000 people since and broken up more than 80 cells.
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