Two tourists, both students from Denmark were hiking in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco on December 17. Four suspects in what the authorities describe as a terrorist act were arrested between Monday and Thursday last week in the tourist hub city of Marrakesh. The two Scandinavian visitors were stabbed, had their throats slit and were then beheaded.
In a video the suspects were seen pledging allegiance to Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi with a black IS flag in the background.
Moroccan authorities have made five new arrests linked to the murder a week ago of two Scandinavian women in the High Atlas mountains, the country’s counter-terror chief said Monday.on
The arrests were made in several cities in the kingdom, bringing to 18 the number of people detained over the double-murder, said Abdelhak Khiam, head of Morocco’s central office for judicial investigation.
Danish student Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, and 28-year-old Norwegian Maren Ueland were found dead at an isolated hiking spot south of Marrakesh on December 17.
Investigators said on Monday that the dismantled “cell” was made up of 18 members, including three with terror-related criminal records.
“The emir of the group” was Abdessamad Ejjoud, a 25-year-old street vendor living on the outskirts of Marrakesh.
The alleged killers had “agreed under the influence of their emir to carry out a terrorist act… targeting the security services or foreign tourists.
Two days before the murders, they allegedly went to the Imlil region “because it is frequented by foreigners” and “targeted the two tourists in a deserted area”, he added.
The others suspected of direct involvement in the killings were Abderrahim Khayali, a 33-year-old plumber, 27-year-old carpenter Younes Ouaziyad, and Rachid Afatti, a 33-year-old street vendor.
“The members of this cell had no contact with Daesh (IS) operatives in conflict zones, whether in Syria, Iraq or Libya” despite declaring allegiance to Baghdadi.