The two Scandinavian tourists who have been found dead in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco have fallen victim to a terrorist attack. That is what the Moroccan security authorities say. Four suspects were arrested. Meanwhile, a film has surfaced in which the quartet swore allegiance to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State.
The murder of one of the ladies was filmed, a perpetrator repeatedly pronouncing the words ‘enemies of Allah’. He also talks about revenge for our brothers in (the Syrian city, ed.) Hajine. Research showed that the images are authentic. One of the suspects was arrested on Tuesday in Marrakech. After a real manhunt the three others were arrested this morning at a bus stop.
Found by French couple
The bodies of the 24-year-old Louisa Vesterager Jespersen from Denmark and the 28-year-old Maren Ueland from Norway were found by a French couple. They were ten kilometres from Imlil, a small village in the High Atlas at the foot of the 4.167 meter high Toubkal mountain.
“My partner and I are here on vacation”, according to the Frenchwoman. “We did a small walking tour and stumbled on an open tent. Then we saw those girls, a terrible sight. We will not dear this for the rest of our lives. We have not seen the perpetrators anymore. We can’t happily praise that.”
“Violence by knives”
According to the Moroccan authorities, the two “traces of violence by knives” had on their necks. According to a source close to the investigation, the throat of the Danish woman would have been cut and the Norwegian would have been beheaded.
“We do not know the circumstances. But many points out that the brutal murder was a terrorist act,” said Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen. “And there is also a video on social media.” The Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg spoke of a “brutal and senseless attack that we condemn”.
The perpetrators would have stayed in the same area with the women and might have stalked them earlier in the day before they surprised and killed them during their sleep. The Moroccan police released photos of the suspects.
“Left together at hotel”
The girls spent one night in Faouzi, a hotel in Marrakech that is popular with backpackers. “They checked in on Monday 10 December and stayed one night”, says an employee. “In the beginning they were five. Three of them went surfing, while Maren and Louisa moved into the city.”
“They returned at 5 pm to pick up their luggage. They put on clothes to go into the mountains. They were clearly enjoying themselves.”
“In the meantime, three guys were waiting for them outside. Those Moroccans looked young, certainly not criminals. I think they spoke to the girls for the first time. They left together and I have not seen them since. I noticed three days ago that they had been killed.”
“Safety came first”
The duo studied together at the university and left on December 9 for a trip that would last a month. “Safety came first with my daughter”, the mother of Ueland laments. “These girls had taken all possible precautions to undertake such a trip.”
“I was devastated”, Jespersen’s mother reacted. “When I saw those two agents at the door, I knew immediately what time it was.”
“They were having a good time”
The boss of a restaurant had still served the women a few days before they were killed. “They were having fun. They said they wanted to climb the Toubkal, the highest mountain in the Atlas Mountains. I advised them to bring a local guide, but they said they did not need it. The police have requested our camera images. We do not understand how anyone can be capable of such a thing, something terrible has never happened here before.”
The region is one of the tourist attractions in Morocco. The country is deeply shocked by the murders. The number of tourists has been growing for years, last year more than 11 million tourists visited the North African country.