Moroccan security services have arrested 44 suspected terrorists and dismantled a network allegedly planning criminal acts on Moroccan territory, the state news agency reported Monday.

The suspects, who included five former soldiers with explosives expertise, were tracked down in Casablanca and six other cities and towns, the MAP agency reported, citing a statement from the Interior Ministry.

Police also seized explosives, laboratory materials and propaganda leaflets, the report said.

CountryWatch: Morocco

The ministry said the group's leader was a former convict who recruited Islamic radicals to train them in explosives use, and planned to wage a holy war from bases in the Nador and Ouezzane regions.

The group allegedly sought to finance its activities through robberies of financial institutions and bank trucks, the statement said.

Morocco's government has cracked down on suspected terrorists since suicide bombings in Casablanca in 2003 left 45 people dead, including the bombers, and stunned a nation where most espouse moderate Islam. Human rights groups allege that innocent people have been caught up in the sweep, and that many are tortured.