A seller, a plumber and a carpenter: the suspects of the beheading of two tourists in Morocco appear



Moroccan police escort a group of suspects in the murders of two Nordic women in December in Sal.

A street vendor, a plumber, a carpenter. The men accused of being involved in the murder of two Nordic tourists, Louisa Vesterager Jespersen and Maren Ueland, in December 2018, parents of the Marrakesh region, must appear this Thursday – together with another twenty people – during the second hearing of the trial.

Most of the suspects (24 in total) are accused of belonging to a group impregnated with the ideology of the Islamic State (IS) "without contact" with the operations structure of the jihadist group in Syria or Iraq, according to the head of the police Moroccan anti-terrorist, Abdelhak Khiam. Of modest economy and "very low" educational level, all of them live in precarious activities.

The emir

Abdessamad Ejjoud, 25-year-old street vendor, is the leader of the group. Nicknamed "Abou Mousab", married and the father of a daughter, he had been sentenced to prison terms for having tried to join the SI ranks in Syria.

When he left prison in 2015, he had set up a jihadist cell. During their meetings, this group "glorified" the actions of the SI, and looked for ways to "sustain" the ultra-radical group, according to the accusation, to which Afp has had access.

It was he who organized the expeditions to the High Atlas, where he decapitated one of the tourists. He also appears -with the other three main suspects- in a video in which they swore allegiance to the Islamic State.

The Carpenter

Younes Ouaziyad, 27, is one of the first to be recruited by Abdessamad Ejjoud. According to several testimonies collected by Afp, Younes was a modest carpenter, to whom his neighbors describe as a "boy without a story".

But, according to those who knew him more closely, a few months before the double murder, he had become adept at Salafism, the most conservative branch of Sun Islam.

He was arrested with Ejjoud and Rachid Afatti after the murder when they were trying to flee Marrakesh by bus.

The third man

Rachid Afatti, 33, did not participate in the beheadings according to the investigators, but recorded the scene with a mobile phone. Father of four children, live in an impoverished rural area of Harbil, near Marrakesh.

His acquaintances affirm that he had "isolated" the months before the double crime. Like the other two suspects, he had shaved his beard and had stopped wearing traditional clothes a time before December 16, when the murder took place, so as not to set off the alarms.

The plumber

Abderrahim Khayali, a 33-year-old plumber, traveled with the three suspects before the Atlas but left them before the crime. He returned to Marrakesh on the day of the double murder to facilitate the flight of his companions.

Three years ago he became a Salafist and also he had left his job in a hotel where they served alcohol, According to several testimonies. The video where the suspects swear allegiance to the IS will have been filmed in their home.

The rest of the suspects

The other 20 accused, aged between 20 and 51 years, have been arrested in various locations for their connections to the alleged perpetrators of the double crime. All belong to the terrorist cell created by Ejjoud, according to the investigators and are accused of "spreading propaganda images" on WhatsApp and Telegram, of planning attacks in Morocco and of having tried to join the Islamic State.

The only foreigner of the group, Kevin Zoller Guervos, 25, is a Hispanic-Swiss convert to Islam, accused of providing "premeditated help to terrorist actors" and "training to commit terrorist acts". He is accused of having taught suspects to use encrypted messenger applications and trained them "to shoot". He has always maintained his innocence.

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