An ongoing joint Spanish-Moroccan police operation dismantled Friday a seven-man terrorist cell that sent volunteers abroad to take part in jihadist activities.

The cell had been organizing and dispatching jihadists right up until Thursday, many of whom went from Spain and Morocco to fight, first in Mali and Libya, and more recently in Syria, a source close to the investigation told Efe.

Those captured were nabbed in Melilla, a Spanish city on the North African coast, as well as in the nearby Moroccan town of Larui, and in Malaga, Spain.

Caught in the operation was "the driving force" of the network, identified as Mustafa Maya Amaya, a Spanish citizen living in Melilla.

Most recently, Amaya was in charge of organizing and coordinating the dispatch of jihadists to Syria and getting them air flights, lodging, contacts in the area and sending them money once they reached their destinations, Moroccan sources said.

Some of those sent have been caught making the round-trip journey, but others remain at large.

Morocco's Interior Ministry issued a statement saying that Amaya "had set up a wide range of contacts with Moroccan and foreign extremists," and that he lived for a time in Larui, where he came into contact with a cell that was dismantled in November 2012 and which specialized in sending combatants to Mali.

In late January, another jihadist cell was dismantled in six Moroccan cities and which happened to be run by a Spaniard - in that case a Christian converted to Islam - who had years of experience in the army, notably as part of the 2003-2004 Spanish mission to Iraq. EFE