Female Scandinavian Hikers Beheaded in Morocco
A horrific video apparently showing the killing of one of two female Scandinavian hikers murdered in Morocco this week, recorded by one of the killers, depicts another killer stating the murders are revenge for the killing of his "brothers" of the Islamic State in Syria.
One of the men now in custody was known to be connected to ISIS, the prosecutor general's office said yesterday.
Today, a video that appears to show the men pledging allegiance to ISIS appeared on social media:
The bodies of Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, from Denmark and Maren Ueland, 28, from Norway were discovered at their camp site on Monday near Imlal, a small village on a hiking route to Mount Toubkal -- the highest peak in North Africa.
The women, who were studying outdoor life, culture, and eco-philosophy at the University of South-Eastern Norway, were on a month-long trip through North Africa.
Louisa Jespersen had posted a video last year about her dreams to take a polar expedition:
A Facebook post on Jespersen's account showed her intention to hike Mount Toubkal this month:
A video taken by campers near the murder scene shows the suspects hastily leaving in the middle of the night. This video helped law enforcement identify the men. Moroccan authorities said three men were in custody earlier today after their arrest at a bus station in Marrakesh:
Agence France Presse quoted police spokesman Boubker Sabik saying terrorism was suspected in the case.
There are indications that the men may have stalked the pair.
The purported mobile video of the beheading of one of the hikers appeared on social media yesterday. Some media reports are claiming that Danish intelligence has already authenticated the beheading video. The video (which I have seen, but will not link to) shows one of the women in a t-shirt and underwear inside of the tent having her head cut off with a knife.
One of the men shouts: "This is for Syria, here are the heads of your Gods," and "This is in revenge for our brothers in Hajin." Hajin is one of the few remaining areas of Syria with an active ISIS presence, currently being targeted by coalition forces.
Morocco has been largely free from terrorism in recent years. The last terror attack occurred in April 2011 when a suicide bomber detonated in Marrakesh, killing 16 people.
It has been reported that approximately 1700 Moroccans traveled to Syria to join ISIS, and there have been recent arrests of Islamic State cells, including the arrest of a six-member cell in Beni-Mellal earlier this month.
The killings this week are reminiscent of the terror attack that killed two Americans in Tajikistan in July of this year: Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan, both 29, of Washington, D.C. The pair were part of a group of seven traveling on bikes who were rammed by a car driven by ISIS supporters, who then got out and stabbed their victims. The terror groups claimed credit for that attack.
The couple had quit their jobs to bike around the world, and had been traveling for more than a year.