Morocco arrests four over 'burning alive' fatwa

AFP , Tuesday 28 Apr 2015

Morocco arrested four people Tuesday in the Western Sahara after they allegedly issued a fatwa authorising the burning alive of a person they accused of rejecting Islam, the interior ministry said.

It said the four members of a "terrorist cell" detained in the disputed territory's main city of Laayoune had planned to "carry out dangerous terrorist crimes" in Morocco.

The ministry, in a statement carried by the MAP news agency, said they had issued a fatwa, or decree, ordering the kidnap and "burning alive" of someone they accused of apostasy -- the act of rejecting Islam or any of its main tenets.

It said an investigation had revealed the suspects' "total acceptance" of the Islamic State group's agenda.

Morocco took control of most of Western Sahara in November 1975 when Spain withdrew, prompting a guerrilla war for independence that lasted until 1991 when the United Nations brokered a ceasefire and sent in peacekeepers.

The interior ministry statement said the cell leader had "great experience" in making explosives and wanted to use this "in carrying out terrorist plans against sensitive targets" in the kingdom.

There are an estimated 1,500 Moroccans in the ranks of jihadist groups such as IS, and last year the country passed special legislation to better able it to combat the phenomenon.

The authorities have announced that several "terrorist cells" have been broken up over the past month.

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