Moroccan authorities believe four suspects in the killing of Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, from Denmark, and Maren Ueland, 28, from Norway were acting on their own initiative, despite having recently sworn an oath to Daesh*.
According to Boubker Sabik, spokesman for the Moroccan security and domestic intelligence services, the four suspects, aged between 25 and 33 years, were headed to the Imlil area, where the two Scandinavian women were found dead terribly disfigured, intent on committing a crime but without selecting their target in advance.
Despite having pledged allegiance to Daesh, the killers hadn't agreed their actions with any foreign entity, Sabik said on the state channel 2M TV, describing them as "lone wolves".
"The crime wasn't coordinated with Daesh", he said. "Lone wolves don't need permission from their leader", Sabik said without explaining how exactly the authorities arrived at this conclusion.
Thomas Hegghammer, one of Europe's foremost experts on terrorism, deemed the killings as "very amateurish".
"Everything about this case seems improvised and opportunistic. I don't think this is ordered from Daesh leadership. This looks more like an initiative from Daesh sympathisers in Morocco. It may look like they have seized an opportunity that popped up. I doubt this has been planned for long. Still, this is in line with Daesh's strategy: They encourage local actions on their own", Hegghammer told Norwegian national broadcaster NRK.
According to the Norwegian Defence Research Institute researcher, the likely purpose is the same one that all terrorists pursue, at all times: attention.
"They are getting into the media, and they create a shock effect in the public opinion. And thus they get an opportunity to spread their message", Hegghammer said. "It shows that Daesh is 'getting things done', that the fight is not over". However, he also stressed that killing defenceless girls shows how desperate Daesh have become.
Meanwhile, both Jespersen's and Ueland's bereaved families have been spammed with gruesome images and cruel messages on Facebook, prompting them to deactivate their accounts.
"We have been bombarded by many strange people. Some wrote things like my daughter is better off dead", Helle Jespersen told the Danish tabloid newspaper BT, explaining that she and her two daughters were compelled to disable their Facebook accounts as the killing video was being shared on their profiles. Having investigated the authenticity of the video, the Danish Intelligence Service (PET) and the Norwegian Criminal Investigation Service (Kripos) announced that everything indicated that the clip is genuine.
Social media expert Jacob Mouritzen of the communications agency Mindshare called the phenomenon of macabre material being sent directly to relatives a new, and previously un-encountered phenomenon.
"It must be a drastic new turn in the digitisation of terror, when terrorists or sympathizers will hurt people in a vulnerable situation. It must be a clear tactic, getting into private pages through false profiles and bot networks to hurt relatives and send them horrible videos and pictures in their commentary field", Mouritzen told BT.
The Scandinavian ladies were found dead in the early hours of last Monday near the village of Imlil on a route to Toubkal, North Africa's highest peak in the Atlas Mountains and a popular hiking and trekking destination.
* Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/IS/Islamic state) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia