The head of the BCIJ unveiled further information about the Swiss-Spanish suspect arrested last month in connection to the double murder of two Scandinavian tourists in Morocco.
Rabat – Moroccan police have arrested at least 23 people as suspects in the murders of Danish Louisa Vesterager Jespersen and Norwegian Maren Ueland, who were decapitated near Imlil in the Atlas Mountains.
In a recent interview with Swiss news outlet Tribune de Geneve, the head of Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ), Abdelhak Khiame, said that the Swiss-Spanish suspect was not “directly involved in the assassination of the two students, but he knew the perpetrators.”
“He was in contact with a Daesh operative in Syria via Telegram messaging,” Khiame added.
According to Khiame, the suspect calls himself “Abu Yahia or Abdullah … He first tried to join a Qur’anic school in the south of the kingdom and then he moved to Marrakech.”
The BCIJ chief added that the suspect was hesitating to choose between Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco.
He arrived in Morocco in 2015.
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After moving to Marrakech, he met with the self-styled “emir of the jihadist cell involved in the murder of two students.” The self-styled emir is the same person who decapitated one of the two victims. The Swiss suspect also participated “in several secret meetings with the members” of the cell.
The suspect, according to Khiame, converted to Islam in the mosque of Petit-Saconnex near Geneva in 2011.
The suspect attended sermons given by two French imams, both converts to Islam.
Both imams “were expelled from the [mosque] for encouraging followers to jihad.”
The suspect was planning to undermine Morocco’s stability by targeting security services and tourists when he was radicalized.
“He led some members to practice shooting in a field with blank cartridges and even recruited sub-Saharans with whom he also planned to join Daesh in northern Mali.”
The suspect will be prosecuted in accordance with the 2003 Anti-Terror Law for having ties with a group that planned to commit acts of terror in Morocco.
War against terrorism continues
In the interview, Khiame also spoke about the international security cooperation between Morocco and other countries.
Speaking specifically about the international security between Morocco and Switzerland, he said, “ We are on good terms with the security services and I suppose our intelligence services are cooperating.”
He said that the two countries will strengthen security cooperation in the aftermath of the double murders.
“Without enhanced cooperation between all intelligence services we will not be able to defeat them,” Khiame added.
Khiame also echoed a statement he made in a recent interview with Moroccan channel 2M, saying that “the disappearance of Daesh from the Syro-Iraqi zone does not signal the end of this ideology.”
He added that the first threat is the return of some fighters to their homelands or other countries.
“The second is the lost people who self-radicalized surfing the internet. The fight will be long,” he added.
The bodies of the two Scandinavian tourists were found on December 17, 2018.
The suspects arrested for the double murder appeared before the investigating judge pending their trial after the investigation was finalized.
Suspects involved in terror crimes typically receive sentences ranging from 10 and 20 years in prison.