- Denmark’s prime minister says the killing of two Scandinavian backpackers in Morocco this week was “politically motivated and thus an act of terror.”
- Louisa Jespersen from Denmark and Maren Ueland from Norway were found dead Monday in Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains.
- Moroccan authorities are investigating a beheading video shared online that appears to show the killing of Jespersen. The video is similar to those released by the Islamic State terrorist group showing the execution of Western prisoners.
- Danish security forces on Thursday said the killings “may be related to the terrorist organisation Islamic State.”
- Four men have been arrested.
The killing of two Scandinavian backpackers on a Moroccan hiking trail was an “act of terror,” Denmark’s prime minister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, said Thursday.
Louisa Jespersen, 24, from Denmark and Maren Ueland, 28, from Norway were found dead Monday in Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains. Rasmussen made the declaration as officials are investigating a video of a beheading posted online that appears to show the killing of Jespersen. Officials said the killing might be linked to the Islamic State terrorist group.
The Danish prime minister’s office tweeted a statement from Rasmussen on Thursday, saying the killings were “politically motivated and thus an act of terror.”
Danish intelligence officials in separate briefings on Thursday said that the video showed one of the women and that they thought it could be the work of the Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS or ISIL.
“The video and preliminary investigation according to the Moroccan authorities indicate that the killings may be related to the terrorist organisation Islamic State,” they said, Reuters reported.
Moroccan prosecutors said they were reviewing the video footage. INSIDER has also seen the footage, which we have chosen not to reproduce.
It shows the death of a blindfolded woman who appears to be Jespersen wearing a white T-shirt. A man severs her head with a knife. The video is similar to those released by ISIS showing the executions of Western prisoners.
BBC Monitoring reported on Thursday that one man in the video said, “This is in revenge for our brothers in Hajin,” referring to the Syrian town ISIS recently lost.
ISIS has not claimed responsibility for the backpackers’ deaths, but the BBC reported that known ISIS sympathizers on the messaging app Telegram shared a post on Wednesday saying: “The perpetrators say they did it for Muslims in Hajin who are being bombed by the [anti-IS] international coalition, of which Denmark and Norway are members.”
The Moroccan state TV station 2M said on its website that investigators believe the killings were an act of terror, according to the Associated Press. It did not link the act to any named group.
As of Thursday, Moroccan authorities have arrested four men who live near Marrakech in connection to the women’s deaths, Morocco World News reported.
At least one of those arrested is linked to an Islamic extremist group.
The women, both of whom studied outdoor activities and cultural guidance at the University of South-Eastern Norway, were on a monthlong trip across Morocco.
They were found about 6 miles from the small village of Imlil, which is a common starting point for people heading up Mount Toubkal, North Africa’s highest peak.
Violence against tourists in Morocco is extremely rare.
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