Intentional Homicide and Mutilation of Police Officer in Casablanca: Suspects Imbued with Extremist Thinking, Adopted Modus Operandi of Individual Terrorism – BCIJ Director
The alleged perpetrators of the intentional homicide and mutilation of the body of a policeman in Casablanca have recently been imbued with extremist thinking and adopted the modus operandi and tactics of individual terrorism, the director of the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations (BCIJ) Cherkaoui Habboub said Friday in Salé.
Speaking at a press briefing, devoted to shedding light on developments in the case of the intentional homicide with mutilation of the body against a policeman in the performance of his duties, Habboub said that data currently available confirms that "the three suspects have been imbued lately with extremist thinking, as they announced their allegiance to the terrorist organization 'Daesh' only about a month and a half ago, which favors the hypothesis of a rapid extremism, especially given their poor educational level."
In addition, Habboub added, one of the three arrested individuals, who is the main suspect, is known to have multiple criminal records in common crimes, with the last record dating back to 2013, when he was convicted of robbery with violence, drug use and possession of bladed weapons without legitimate reason.
The lines of investigation have confirmed that the suspects have adopted the modus operandi and tactics of individual terrorism to commit their heinous crime, before they seized the handcuffs and the service weapon of the victim police officer with the intention of using it to commit a subsequent crime namely the robbery of a bank branch, said the BCIJ director.
He added that the investigation procedures have confirmed the element of "premeditation" adopted in this terrorist project, while the suspects have located with precision the location of the targeted bank branch, made reconnaissance tours in its vicinity and agreed on a method of robbery in order to use the profits of this crime to finance terrorist activities.
The BCIJ director confirmed the terrorist motive after the arrest of the three suspects, as stated by the General Directorate of National Security (DGSN) in its statement issued about this case.
According to the data provided by the investigative team, up to this stage of the search, the three suspects have recently pledged allegiance to the terrorist organization Daesh, after one of the suspects pronounced what they considered the "so-called oath of allegiance", which was adopted and pronounced by the rest of the suspects, added Habboub, noting that this is an indication of their involvement in a terrorist organization as part of a collective project to seriously undermine public order.
He said that the information currently available also indicates that the suspects were planning to join the Islamic State organization in the Sahel region, before giving up on this project due to the lack of sufficient funding sources to ensure their travel, which prompted them to adopt an alternative of carrying out local terrorist operations targeting security officers and bank branches.
On the other hand, the BCIJ director said that it was not possible to favor any of the investigative hypotheses when the body of the policeman was found at the crime scene, which forced the investigative team to treat all possible hypotheses, including the hypothesis of terrorist motive, as leads requiring thorough investigation and research.
"Indeed, the method of execution of this criminal act, the method of mutilation of the body, the function of the victim as a police officer and the indicators of seizing his service weapon and handcuffs ... are all data and indicators that confirmed from the outset that we are dealing with an organized criminal act, committed by more than two people at least, and that the backgrounds of this act may be purely criminal motives, such as theft, for example, or they may be committed for extremist motives," explained Habboub.
The investigation team worked hard to collect testimonies from dozens of witnesses near the place where the victim's body was found and the place where the vehicle was set on fire, but this did not bring anything new to the search process, Habboub stressed, adding that the technical and forensic police processed a large collection of samples and traces collected from the crime scene.
The investigative team also downloaded and processed digital content to determine the suspects' routes, as well as to identify the path taken by the victim's car, he said.
Thanks to the joint efforts of the team of investigators from the Directorate General of Surveillance of National Territory (DGST) and the Directorate General of National Security (DGSN), the first suspect was identified and arrested in Casablanca, before proceeding to the arrest of the other two suspects respectively in Sidi Harazem near Fez, and in Casablanca.
Habboub welcomed the strong interaction of citizens, men and women, with the investigation and inquiry team, noting that this is a spontaneous collaboration on the part of a large number of citizens who communicated every piece of information, voluntarily submitting their testimonies to the service of justice in the hope of clarifying the truth and arresting the people involved.
He also commended the broad solidarity expressed by sections of Moroccan society, who expressed their sympathy with the small family of the policeman, and with his large family represented by the institution of national security.
"At this level of investigation, we can talk about a terrorist cell composed of three main suspects: the so-called emir of this terrorist cell (31 years old) and the second suspect (37 years old), both of whom participated in the physical execution of the intentional homicide and mutilation of the victim's body."
As for the third suspect (50 years old), he effectively participated in altering the traces of the crime and concealing the evidence after deliberately setting fire to the victim's car.
It can also be said, Habboub added, that the dangers of this terrorist cell have been contained and its threats to the safety of people and property have been repelled, especially after the team of investigators managed to recover the service weapon and the five stolen bullets.
The expertise conducted by the Technical and Forensic Police Laboratory has confirmed that this weapon was not used and no bullets were fired by the accused, said Habboub.
Regarding the lines of investigation adopted to clarify this heinous terrorist crime, and apprehend those involved, Habboub noted that this is the result of joint work and close coordination on the ground between the DGST and the DGSN, represented by the Prefectural Service of the Judicial Police of Casablanca, the National Brigade of the Judicial Police, and experts of the technical and forensic police.
The BCIJ director also praised the contribution made by the Royal Gendarmerie during the preliminary proceedings of this case, especially in the inspection and combing of the place where the body of the victim was found, as well as the place where his car was deliberately burned and abandoned in a rural area.
He also expressed his thanks the local authority's representatives, who spared no effort to provide the necessary support and accompaniment, in order to facilitate the tasks of the search, investigation and sweep teams.
In this sense, he stressed that all field investigation procedures, technical and scientific expertise performed in this case, as well as the diagnostic operations that contributed to the arrest of suspects, were conducted under the direct supervision of the Public Prosecutor's Office in the city of Casablanca and this in the first phase of research, and under the effective direction of the Public Prosecutor's Office in charge of terrorism cases after the extremist and terrorist nature of this despicable crime has become apparent.
Habboub stressed that the search procedures entrusted by the prosecutor's office to the BCIJ under the DGST is currently continuing in coordination with the DGSN services , to identify possible ramifications of this terrorist act, and identify individuals allegedly involved in complicity or participation in the execution of this crime, in addition to elucidate all the circumstances of this heinous crime.
The dismantling of this terrorist cell involved in the intentional homicide with mutilation of the body of the policeman, recalled Habboub, coincided with an imminent terrorist project whose risks have been neutralized and defeated by the security services of Safi, in close cooperation with the DGST.
This is also, noted Habboub, an extremist element supporter of "Daesh" who was arrested on Wednesday in the city of Safi, after pledging allegiance to the so-called emir of this terrorist organization. The element is involved in the preparation to execute a terrorist plan as part of an individual project to seriously undermine public order.
The respondent has also been subjected to the procedures of judicial investigation entrusted by the Public Prosecutor to the BCIJ, to elucidate all the elements and contours of its terrorist project.
MAP:18 March 2023