RABAT, Morocco—Morocco says two terror cells that it has dismantled planned to build a base in a mountainous zone complete with a school to inculcate children with jihadist principles.

The Interior Ministry statement says the cells, originally taken down last November in the northern Mediterranean port of Nador, had links to the nearby Spanish enclave of Melilla as well as to Belgium.

The cells' capture was first announced Sunday.

In a statement then, the government said the groups wanted to recruit fighters for northern Mali. Thursday's statement says the groups wanted to start a holy war in Morocco and to rob banks to support their activities.

Morocco frequently announces the dissolution of small extremist cells, but no organized terrorist network is believed to have taken root in the kingdom.