Moroccan police have dismantled a terrorist cell with links to Usama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network, arresting three Saudi nationals, key government officials said Monday.

The three men were planning suicide operations against American and British warships patrolling the Strait of Gibraltar, the Moroccan officials said on condition of anonymity.

The names of the suspects, who were arrested in May, were not released.

The arrests were made with the help of intelligence services of "several friendly countries," one of the officials told The Associated Press.

It is the first confirmation of a crackdown in Morocco since the United States and its allies launched a military campaign in Afghanistan to destroy Al Qaeda.

In October 2000, two suicide bombers in a small dingy rammed the USS Cole destroyer in a port in Yemen, blasting a hole in its side and killing 17 sailors.

The United States blames bin Laden's Al Qaeda network for that attack and the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

There are also indications that an April 11 terrorist attack against a synagogue in Tunisia, which killed 19 people, may also be linked to the Al Qaeda.

If Al Qaeda operatives are confirmed to be behind the attack, it would mark the terror group's first known successful operation outside of the war zone in Central Asia since Sept. 11.