Ahmed Dlimi made a career in the Moroccan army. This young army, also known as Forces Armées Royales, was officially founded on May 14, 1956. The name Dlimi is as infamous as that of the army he served. Both are characterized by arbitrariness, corruption, abuse of power and violence. The regime and the army are still in power, Ahmed Dlimi is not. His career ended as it had turned out with violence and scandals.
At the time Dlimi’s career took off, the armed forces consisted largely of soldiers who had served in the French and Spanish colonial armies. Well-known senior officers of this army were Generals Kettani Ben Hamou (1910 – 1965) and Mohamed Ben Mizzian Al Kassem (1897 – 1975). Their careers began in the colonial armies and they were the first Moroccans to be promoted to the rank of general.
The first achievements of this army were the bloody and violent repression of popular protests both in their own country and in Algeria. Notorious is the suppression of popular resistance in the Rif in 1958 and 1959. The rulers and the army did not hesitate to use poison gas and napalm against unarmed civilians. In 1963 it fought and lost a border dispute with neighboring Algeria, the so-called Sand War. And in 1975, Morocco became involved in the protracted Western Sahara War.
The same army was deployed against protesters in the Rif in 1984, who peacefully demonstrated against increases in the price of important foodstuffs. Many people were killed and injured.
In 1972, after the second military coup attempt, Hassan II convened his chief army officers and delivered the following message: “If I may give you good advice, I advise you to step back from political affairs and instead focus on making money”. In doing so, he introduced corruption within the military and at the same time implemented a reorganization in which the functions of defense secretary and chief of staff of the armed forces were abolished. Officer Ahmed Dlimi attended this meeting.
Disappearance of Ben Barka
Ahmed Dlimi was born in 1931 in Sidi Kacem, to a family descended from the Oulad Dlim clan from Western Sahara. These clan members have served in the armies of the Moroccan sultans since time immemorial. Lahcen Dlimi’s father was a translator for the French occupier at the time of the protectorate.
Dlimi studied at the French officer school Dar el Beida in Meknes and became a lieutenant there in 1953. In 1958, after an internship in France, he married the daughter of the Moroccan Minister of the Interior and friend of King Mohamed V, Messaoud Chiguer.
After her father was released from his ministerial post, he divorced her. Dlimi remarried the same year to Zahra Bouselham, a daughter of a family close to the Oufkirs.
In his position as an army officer he was involved in the violent crackdown on the popular protest in the Rif in late 1958 and early 1959. He then worked briefly for military intelligence. He was then appointed head of CAB-1, the Moroccan internal secret service, predecessor of the current DGST Direction Général de Surveillance du Territoire.
And as deputy police director, Dlimi was taken into custody by French authorities for involvement in the disappearance of Ben Barka on October 29, 1965 in Paris. Mehdi Ben Barka was leader of the opposition and opponent of King Hassan II. Dlimi was acquitted after remand in the Parisian prison of La Santé. Shortly afterwards, in 1967, Hassan II Dlimi was promoted to the rank of colonel.
Colonel Dlimi was appointed General Director of the Police in 1970, headed by the Minister of the Interior, General Oufkir. Subsequently, Dlimi was appointed director of Royal Adjutants. Thus the colonel worked his way up to become an important security adviser to Hassan II.
Dlimi’s name was on the death list of the coup plotters during the failed coup of July 10, 1971 in Skhirat. He narrowly escaped death by hiding with a small entourage of Hassan II and escaping the coup plotters.
During the second coup d’état on August 16, 1972, he and King Hassan II were on board the plane that was shot at by fighter jets of the Moroccan army. After the emergency landing at Rabat-Sale airport, he managed to get Hassan II and himself to safety by quickly leaving the plane with a weapon at the ready. Dlimi wanted to liquidate the commander of the Moroccan Air Force, Colonel Hassan Lyoussi, immediately. Hassan II prevented him from doing so because he wanted to get the plans for this coup out of Colonel Lyoussi.
Dlimi saw an opportunity to retaliate against the coup plotters by acting as a magistrate of the military court during the trial of Oufkir and his fellow coup plotters.
His role during and after the two failed coups helped Dlimi increase his influence and power. After all, there were few confidants left of Hassan II. The people around Oufkir had been executed or jailed. Dlimi was present at the liquidation of Oufkir in Hassan II’s palace in Skhirat. Dlimi is said to have fired at Oufkir together with General Hafid Alalui, after which King Hassan II gave him the final shot.
Colonel Dlimi reformed the intelligence services and in 1973 created the current counterintelligence & foreign security service, the DGED (Direction Générale des Etudes et de la Documentation), over which he was put in charge.
After two coup attempts, Hassan II froze the promotion of his army officers. Dlimi was exempted from this and was promoted to general, in 1975 Dlimi was appointed Commander of the Southern Military Zone, of the so-called “Sahara Army,” the army that waged war against Polisario. Thus Dlimi was put in charge of about 75% of the Moroccan army.
Dlimi was one of the richest businessmen in Morocco and owned many businesses. In business he followed the example of the CIA: setting up companies to provide the organization with additional and invisible income. Dlimi did it that way too, and he personally benefited from the profits of the businesses he set up.
He was the first to open an Adidas outlet in Morocco. He registered this company under the name of an ex-army officer and politician, Colonel Abdellah Kadiri (1937 – 2019). The latter said in an interview: “Dlimi told me that in Hassan II’s Morocco you are never sure of anything, today I am a general and what I am tomorrow I do not know. This company (Adidas) is insurance for my children”.
Traffic accident or liquidation?
Moroccan state media reported Dlimi’s death on January 25, 1983. His car would have collided head-on with a truck and he would not have survived this traffic accident. He was on his way home from a visit to the king in Marrakech. Marrakech residents say Dlimi’s car was said to have been hit by explosives.
No one has seen the remains, not even his family and relatives, because the coffin was immediately sealed.
The truck involved was later found, but there was no trace of the driver. The truck would have been stolen. This accident may be a coincidence, but such an accident raises questions for high-ranking victims and certainly a close associate of the king.
According to Ahmed Rami (1946), former adjutant of Oufkir, now living in Sweden and now a radical Muslim, General Dlimi was planning a coup against the king.
Hassan II had heard of this and ordered the general to be killed. The international media such as Le Monde, took over Rami’s story. Gilles Perrault, author of the book “A Friendly Head of State, Hassan II of Morocco, Absolute Monarch” (1990), also devoted a chapter on Dlimi and his death, including Rami’s version.
Sex photos as a motive for attack
A completely different version can be found in the book ‘Les officiers de Sa Majesté: Les Dérives des Généraux Marocains 1956–2006‘ (His Majesty’s officers: the instincts of the Moroccan generals 1956–2006) by Commander Mahjoub Tobji (1942), the former adjutant of Dlimi.
It says that General Dlimi had “ears and eyes” everywhere in Morocco as an intelligence officer, even in the palaces of Hassan II.
For example, Dlimi found out that Mohamed Médiouri (1938), head of the Département de Protection Royale (head of Hassan II bodyguards unit), had a sexual relationship with the king’s wife, Latifa Amahzoune (1946). Dlimi is said to have informed the king of this and thus signed his own death warrant. In Hassan II’s Morocco such knowledge was not allowed and certainly not passed on, not even to the king.
Dlimi would even have photos of Médiouri and Latifa in bed together. He is said to have blackmailed Médiouri, who then sought help from Dlimi’s rival General Housni Benslimane (1935), the commander of the Royal Gendarmerie. He and Dlimi were engaged in a power struggle. Colonel Benslimane saw an opportunity to neutralize his powerful rival. He would then have received the green light from the king to end the general’s life.
Hicham Dlimi, a cousin of the general, released another version in January 2011. In an interview with the French weekly Valeurs Actuelles, he said the following:
Dlimi was very subservient to the king and thus became his best confidant. A yes or no from the king could only be obtained through Dlimi.
On the day of his death, he was visiting a friend in Rabat. This friend is said to have warned Dlimi about the Minister of the Interior, Driss Basri (1938 – 2007). After his visit he went to his house in the villa district of Palmeraie in Marrakech, on arrival he was summoned by the king to the palace there.
The king would have reproached him there. Dlimi is said to have tried to refute these accusations and to make it clear to the king who spread these rumors and accusations, namely director of Hassan’s protocol general Hafid el Alaoui (1910 – 1989), Driss Basri, Ahmed Réda Guédira (1922 – 1995), (one adviser to the king) and Mohamed Médiouri.
After this interview, Dlimi returned home. A small truck would have blocked the way near his house. Dlimi is said to have driven an armored Mercedes with his driver, both heavily armed. When the driver of Dlimi tried to reverse that side of the road was blocked by an Audi. When the armored vehicle was fired from this car, this had no effect. Dlimi and his driver are said to have fired back and survived this first attack.
They failed to repulse the second attack by another group and Dlimi and his driver were killed. Dlimi’s body was placed under the truck and the driver’s body set on fire in the Mercedes. Dlimi’s gardener and the imam who washed his remains have been murdered. A friendly soldier who saw the remains before the coffin was sealed is said to have reported to the general’s nephew that his body was riddled with bullets.
One’s dead is another’s bread
Dlimi’s functions were later divided between the three soldiers: Colonel Major Abdelaziz Bennani (1935 – 2015) became Commander of the Southern Sector; Colonel Major Mohammed Cherkaoui (1922 – 2002) became Director of the Cabinet of the Royal Adjutants and Colonel Abdelhaq Kadiri (1934 – 2017) became Director General of the counterintelligence service DGED.
In various files on human rights violations in Morocco and in testimonials of victims, the name of General Dlimi is mentioned repeatedly. He is said to have personally tortured and assaulted the opponents of Hassan II, but it never came to a lawsuit, even his own death has not been investigated. General Dlimi’s family did not speak publicly about the cause of death, perhaps this is why they do not suffer from reprisals as was the case with the Oufkir family.
Translation: Najat M.