- Moroccan police hunting the killers of two Scandinavian hikers unwittingly foiled a terror plot during their raids.
- Officers found bomb-making materials, and “spared Morocco a terrorist plot,” a spokesman for the country’s intelligence services said on Sunday.
- Louisa Jespersen from Denmark and Maren Ueland from Norway were found dead in Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains on December 18, with “evidence of violence to their necks.”
- Four suspects pledged their allegiance to ISIS, but Moroccan investigators believe they were lone wolves.
Moroccan security services said they unwittingly foiled a terror plot while hunting the killers of two Scandinavian backpackers, who were found dead in the country’s Atlas Mountains on December 18.
Boubker Sabik, a spokesman for the Moroccan security and domestic intelligence services, said on Sunday that police stumbled upon an unconnected terror plot while rounding up suspects on Friday, according to Reuters.
During the raids across multiple cities officers found materials that could be used for bomb-making, which had “spared Morocco a terrorist plot,” Sabik said.
Sabik said officers found “electronic devices,” “knives,” and “unauthorised hunting rifles,” but did not give more details.
Louisa Jespersen, 24, from Denmark, and 28-year-old Maren Ueland from Norway were found dead six miles from the small village of Imlil – a common starting point for people heading up Mount Toubkal, North Africa’s highest peak – with “evidence of violence to their necks.”
Police have now arrested 13 men in connection with the deaths.
Four other men were arrested on Tuesday and Thursday in Marrakech, all of whom pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS) the week before in a video shared on social media, Morocco’s general prosecutor said.
Denmark, Norway, and Morocco are all investigating a separate video connected with the case, of a beheading that appears to show the killing of Jespersen.
The video shows a man severing the head of a blindfolded woman, who appears to be Jespersen, with a knife. The video is similar to those released by ISIS of the executions of Western prisoners.
Norwegian officials said the video is authentic and likely linked to ISIS. Denmark also said the video is authentic.
Authorities are now trying to find the culprits and the motive of the killings.
Although four suspects pledged their allegiance to ISIS, Moroccan investigators believe they were lone wolves not acting on behalf of ISIS.
Sabik, the Moroccan security services spokesman, said on Sunday: “The crime was not coordinated with Islamic State.”
“Lone wolves do not need permission from their leader,” he added.
ISIS has not claimed responsibility for the deaths.