On 10 July 1971, the Moroccan army carried out a failed coup against the king in the palace of Skhirat. The following year airmen made a new coup, this time the plane of King Hassan II, on his return from France, was attacked in the air by jet fighters.
In the near future the Amazigh Information Centre will reconstruct this historical event with short articles. We will do so on the basis of testimonies from people who have experienced this event, such as the fighter pilot Salah Hachad, books by critical authors such as Gilles Perrault, Stephen Smith and various newspaper articles.
Torture of Omar el Khattabi
Omar el Khattabi was born in 1926 on board the boat that took the whole family of Abdelkrim el Khattabi to the exile on the island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean, almost nine thousand kilometres away from the Rif. Omar is a son of Abdeslam el Khattabi, uncle of the resistance hero Mohamed ben Abdelkrim Khattabi who founded the first Rif Republic in the 1920s. He was exiled after Spain, France and Morocco won the war against the Rif Republic. A battle in which the Rif was bombed on a large scale with poison gas.
Omar el Khattabi attended secondary school in La Réunion together with the lawyer, activist and anti-colonialist Jacques Vergès and Raymond Barre, who will become Prime Minister of France and with whom he has remained friends. Omar el Khattabi completed his medical studies in Switzerland and returned to Morocco in the early 1960s to settle there for good. He stayed in the city of Kenitra where he worked as a doctor, first in a state hospital, later he opened a private clinic where he met the Riffian officers Mohamed Amekrane and Louafi Kouera, with whom he became friends.
The Moroccan media claim that Omar el Khattabi would be appointed president, if the 1972 coup succeeded. An agreement would have been made with the Moroccan socialist party USFP to clear the way for a republic in Morocco after the coup of general Oufkir. However, there is no evidence to support this assertion, nor is there any credible testimony.
After the execution of his friends Amekrane and Kouera in January 1973, Omar el Khattabi financially supported Amekran’s widow and her children, who fled to the Federal Republic of Germany, through his friend ‘engineer Temsamani’ who acted as an intermediary. Lieutenant-Colonel Amekrane’s family received a monthly amount of money from the Riffians.
In May 1973 Omar el Khattabi was arrested together with his friend the ‘engineer Temsamani’ by the Moroccan police in Tiṭṭawin (Tetouan) on charges of attempting to blow up a number of locations. At the police station Derb Moulay Chrif in Casablanca, known as the secret detention centre, Omar Khattabi was physically and mentally tortured, he was hanged for more than three weeks, until he fell on his back. He broke his spine and hip. In 1974 he was released and placed under house arrest for a year, losing a lot of weight and being unable to walk for a while. He never recovered and will continue to suffer for the rest of his life.
In 1996, he founded the Abdelkrim el Khattabi Foundation for Studies, Research and Documentation: this organisation was never recognised by the Moroccan authorities. Omar el Khattabi died of an illness in 2006.
This article will be continued.
Translated by: Najat M.