Hundreds of Moroccans detained at Algiers airport after ’trying to reach Libya’
Algerian government says there is an "unusual" increase in Moroccans travelling to Libya, where Islamic State militants have been gaining ground
By James Rothwell
7:22PM GMT 24 Jan 2016
More than 200 Moroccans have been detained at Algeria’s main airport after trying to travel to Libya, where Islamic State militants are building a new caliphate.
The men were stopped at Algiers airport on Saturday night and were considered suspicious because they did not have legal residence in Libya.
Algeria’s government said it had also summoned the Moroccan envoy to explain a "sudden increase" in people attempting the journey.
It comes as the Islamic State of the Iraq and the Levant (Isil) announced it was trying to recruit more jihadists from North African countries to extend its influence over the continent.
"The question about the massive and unusual flow of Moroccans from Casablanca heading for Libya through Algeria in the last weeks was the reason for discussions with the ambassador," a spokesman for Algeria’s foreign ministry said.
The ministry said it was facing a “particularly delicate” situation which needed better vigilance and cooperation from its neighbouring countries.
Isil has been steadily in increasing its presence in Libya, prompting neighbouring Tunisia to build a security wall across its border in the hopes of stemming the flow of new IS recruits.
Photo: Islamic State militants lead hostages to be decapitated on a beach in Tripoli
The Islamist group has already taken over the city of Sirte and last week publicly flogged four men for drinking alcohol, which is against Sharia law.
Around 3,000 Tunisians and hundreds of Moroccans are believed to have signed up as jihadists in Libya, which is seen as a potential seat of power in North Africa due to its sparse border controls and political instability.