Rabat (AFP) - Morocco announced on Thursday that it is tightening security measures in response to a "serious terrorist threat" linked to the growing number of its citizens joining jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq.
Interior Minister Mohamed Hassad said there was "a serious threat of a terrorist attack against the kingdom because of the growing number of Moroccans belonging to extremist organisations in Syria and Iraq".
"A certain number of these fighters rise to leading positions within such organisations and do not hide their intention of carrying out terrorist attacks in Morocco," he told a cabinet meeting in Rabat.
His comments were relayed to the press by government spokesman Mustapha Khalfi.
Hassad did not elaborate on the reinforced security measures, except to say that actions have been taken "to guarantee the safety of citizens... and of strategic public sectors," without compromising economic activity.
On Monday, Rabat said it was tightening security checks on US-bound flights from Casablanca, as other airports in Europe and the Middle East made similar moves at Washington's request, amid fears of fresh attacks by Islamist militants in the United States.
The Moroccan authorities frequently claim to have broken up jihadist cells allegedly recruiting and sending volunteers to Iraq and Syria, where officials say there are currently more than 1,000 Moroccan combatants.
Between 2011 and 2013, 18 "terrorist cells" were dismantled, while around 200 Moroccans planning to fight in or returning from Syria have been jailed, according to the country's prison chief Mohamed Salah Tamek.