Morocco backpacker murders 15 charged after sick video of beheadings

Louisa Vesterager Jespersen and Maren Ueland were brutally killed in the Atlas Mountains in an apparent Islamic State attack

Fifteen people have been charged in connection with the brutal murders of two Scandinavian backpackers in Morocco.

Preliminary terrorism charges have been filed against the men, including forming a gang to prepare and commit terrorist acts and premeditated murder.

It follows the horrific killings of Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, from Denmark, and Maren Ueland, 28, from Norway in the Atlas Mountains on December 17.

The murdered women were discovered with cuts to their necks in an apparent Islamic State-inspired attack.

Sick pictures of their slaughtered bodies were later posted on the Facebook page of one of their grieving mums.

So far 20 people have been arrested over the killings with more expected to be charged in connection to the case this week.

It is not clear against who the charges have been brought.

After the slayings, a video emerged of four suspects pledging allegiance to ISIS in footage later authenticated by authorities.

The four main suspects are alleged to have hastily formed a terrorist “cell”, recruiting as many as 15 others into it.
Suspect Ouziad Younes (Image: AFP/Getty Images)
Another suspect Rachid Afatti (Image: AFP/Getty Images)
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Morocco backpacker ‘butchers’ chilling mission in days before beheadings’

They then agreed “under the influence of their emir” – said to be a 25-year-old street vendor – to commit a terrorist act, authorities claim.

They wanted to target security services or tourists, said Abdelhak Khiam, the head of Morocco’s central office for judicial investigation.
Moroccan police officers driving a truck carrying the bodies of the two murdered hikers (Image: AFP/Getty Images)
Police have arrested 20 people over the murders so far (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

Compared with other countries in North Africa, Morocco has been largely insulated from militant attacks.

The most recent took place in April 2011, when 17 people were killed in the bombing of a restaurant in Marrakech.

In 2017 and 2018, Morocco said it dismantled 20 militant cells planning attacks in the country.

They then agreed “under the influence of their emir” – said to be a 25-year-old street vendor – to commit a terrorist act, authorities claim.

They wanted to target security services or tourists, said Abdelhak Khiam, the head of Morocco’s central office for judicial investigation.

Compared with other countries in North Africa, Morocco has been largely insulated from militant attacks.

The most recent took place in April 2011, when 17 people were killed in the bombing of a restaurant in Marrakech.

In 2017 and 2018, Morocco said it dismantled 20 militant cells planning attacks in the country.

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