A Moroccan government spokesman has confirmed the police have arrested six more people over the past couple of days in connection with the horrific murder of Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, aged 24, from Denmark, and Maren Ueland, 28, of Norway, in the Moroccan mountains, thus bringing the total number of nabbed suspects to 19.
Domestic intelligence spokesman Boubker Sabik referred to the suspects as a “lone wolf, hastily organised terrorist cell” when speaking at a press-conference in the country’s capital city of Rabat. He went on to state that the hair-raising crime “was not co-ordinated with Islamic State”, thereby questioning earlier reports that the killers had pledged allegiance to Daesh* after stabbing the two women multiple times, injuring the neck of one and filming the beheading of the other one.
It has also been revealed that the victims were “happy and sociable” just days before the tragedy, according to Rachid Imerhade, a mountain guide who had earlier met the two friends.
“They were smiling, chatty and sociable. They talked a lot with the other people around”, he was cited by media as saying.
Sabik noted that the group has recruited up to fifteen other members and pledged loyalty to Daesh, but the authorities believe no prior contact with the notorious terrorist organisation had been established.
“The emir of the group” — military leader — was Abdessamad Ejjoud, a 25-year-old street vendor living near Marrakesh, the others were acting on his command, according to Sabik, who told AFP that Ejjoud had “formed a kind of cell that discussed how to carry out a terrorist act inside the kingdom”.
The killers travelled to the mountainous Imlil region due to the fact that it is “frequented by foreigners” and “targeted the two tourists in a deserted area”, Sabik concluded.
Among the other suspects are a plumber, a carpenter and a second street vendor, and according to the Moroccan intelligence none of these had earlier contacted Daesh.
The pair had set up camp at an isolated mountain site around two hours from the tourist village of Imlil when they were attacked, with their disfigured bodies found at a distance from each other in the morning of December 17.
A candlelight vigil in memory of Louisa and Maren in Town Hall Square in Copenhagen was held yesterday and one in Rabat, Morocco earlier this week.