The alleged leader of a Jihadist cell who is accused of killing two Scandinavian hikers in Morocco has admitted that he beheaded one of the women and said that the murders were carried out in the name of ISIS.
Danish student Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, and 28-year-old Norwegian Maren Ueland had their throats slit in December 2018 while camping in the Atlas Mountains, which is a mountain range in the Maghreb and it stretches around 2,500 km (1,600 mi) through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.
“I beheaded one of them… I regret it,” former street vendor Abdessamad Ejjoud, 25, told the court, while blaming co-defendant, Younes Ouaziyad for killing the other hiker.
“We loved ISIS and we prayed to God for it,” Ejjoud said.
Three are suspected of direct involvement in the killings. Ejjoud had been jailed for trying to join IS in Syria. In theory, the killers could face the death penalty, but Morocco has had a de facto freeze on executions since 1993.
Twenty-four defendants are facing charges that include promoting terrorism, forming a terrorist cell, and premeditated murder, appeared in the court in Sale, near Rabat, under heavy security.
The main suspects are all from the Marrakesh region, near the site of the killings which shocked the North African country.
Nature lovers Jespersen and Ueland shared an apartment and went to Norway’s Bo University, where they were studying to be guides.They had traveled together to Morocco for the Christmas holidays.
Their lives were ended in the foothills of Toubkal, the highest summit in North Africa, some 50 miles from the city of Marrakesh, a tourist magnet.
According to the charges, the assailants traveled to the High Atlas mountains on December 12, 2018 on a mission to kill tourists that they found.
Several potential targets were passed over because the foreigners were accompanied by guides or local residents.
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