Casablanca - Secretary-General of Justice and Development Party (PJD) Abdelilah Benkirane denies links with the party’s Electronic Brigade, known as the Knights of Justice and Development, while a report suggests the opposite.
Casablanca – Secretary-General of Justice and Development Party (PJD) Abdelilah Benkirane denies links with the party’s Electronic Brigade, known as the Knights of Justice and Development, while a report suggests the opposite.
Abdelilah Benkirane has publicly distanced himself and his party from the Knights of Justice and Development, while denouncing their tactics in using social media to gain support for the PJD through unethical means.
In a statement given October 14, Benkirane denounced the attack launched by the E-Brigade against Ministers and party leaders. He called upon those who may have any links with “these creatures that [he does not] know where they hide, to tell them to calm down.” For his own part, Benkirane claims to have no personal knowledge as to their identities.
However, a report in the October 24 issue of the Arabic-speaking newspaper, Al Ahdath Al Maghribia, entitled “The Relation of the Electronic Brigade with Benkirane,” suggested that, “not only does Benkirane knows these e-campaigners, he is also the one who created them in the first place.”
Abderrahmane El Mansi, author of the report, openly challenges Benkirane’s assertion that he has no links whatsoever to these e-activists who flagrantly assault public and political figures on behalf of the PJD:
“Was Benkirane really surprised with the amount of massacres committed by the brigades or is it just some ‘white Islamic lies’?”
El Mansi maintains in his article that Benkirane’s denunciation of the series of assaults undertaken by the e-brigade “has shaken the E-brigade, which urged the leaders of this filthy mission to condemn the ingratitude of their Secretary-General and his denial of the links with the army he founded himself.”
El Mansi further claims that the creation of the E-Brigade can be traced directly to Mustapha El khalfi, former Minister of Communications.
According El Mansi, Khalfi “initially hired these E-activists and paid them from Moroccan taxpayers’ money, to promote Morocco’s positions on the issue of Sahara but later enlisted them to serve the interests of his own party.”
After listing a number of Facebook pages of these e-campaigners and the date of their creation, the author went on to talk about a meeting between these young brigadiers and Benkirane on June 13 of last year, during the period held the position of Head of Government.
El Mansi pointed out that the meeting, which was scheduled in Benkirane’s house and later moved to PJD headquarters, came as an “insult” to the party’s long-time activists including Abdessamad Ben Abad, Hassan Hmoro, and Nizar Khiron, who “had volunteered for free to defend the project of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
From this meeting on, continues the author, Ghassan Hassan Ben Echiheb emerged as a “necessary channel between E-Activists in Morocco,” and a leader of these brigades that “led a series of political roistering against public figures, journalists, authors, intellectuals and parties.”
The author suggests that Benkirane’s last detachment from the E-brigades points the fingers only at the Knights of Justice and Development and not the other brigades “despite the fact that the content of the Knights’ Facebook page did not vary much from that of the other [Pro-PJD] pages.”
According to El Mansi this is allegedly due to the fact that another leader in the Knights, Jaouad Ghassal, responsible for communications in the Minister of Justice and Liberties’ office, was involved in a scandal and had to be cut loose.
In another troubling claim, the report also suggested that two colleagues from Morocco’s National Phosphate Company (OCP), Youssef Ratmi and Mohamed Herbala, founded the Facebook page of the Knights of Justice and Development on September 15, 2015 under the title “The Petition to Abolish the Retirement Pension of Ministers and MPs”.
At the time, there were popular uprisings in Morocco denouncing the high retirement pensions of these government officials, which made the page thrive. Interestingly, the page has allegedly changed its name and became the PJD’s first social media fan base.