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.
Arrest of one-third of air force staff
The Kenitra airbase is surrounded by armoured vehicles on the evening of August 16th. About a thousand people work at the Moroccan part of the base, that is one third of the Moroccan air force personnel and they were all arrested and imprisoned without resistance. The king seems to be hiding in the palace of Skhirat and is under the protection of the paratroopers. The events followed quickly, Major Louafi Kouera broke his leg during the parachute landing, he was arrested by the gendarmerie and handed over to the king. When the king hears that one of the fighter jets has crashed and the pilot jumps with his parachute, he gives the order to bring the pilot to him.
Death of Oufkir
In the early hours of August 17th, the official press agency MAP, Maghreb Arab Press, reports that General Oufkir committed suicide during the night. There are doubts about this version of the story. The general is said to have been shot because he is the head of the conspirators. His wife Fatima and daughter Malika state that Oufkir’s body has four separate gunshot wounds. This is too much for someone who was known as a good shooter to commit suicide. The right hand of Hassan II, General Mohamed Oufkir (1920-1972) is said to have been shot through by General Hafid Allaoui and Colonel Ahmed Dlimi and then Hassan II gives his Minister of Defence the shot.
The Moroccan newspapers and radio publish the news about the attack in a sharply censored form. At the airport of Casablanca, all foreign newspapers of incoming travelers are confiscated.
Delivery of Lieutenant Colonel Amekrane
On 18 August it was announced that the British government had extradited Lieutenant-Colonel Amekrane and Lieutenant-El-Midaoui to Morocco at night. The only explanation given is that ‘their presence in Gibraltar is not in the public interest’. London fears that the three thousand Moroccans working on the rock would be recalled to their country if extradition were refused and that supplies to the English colony blocked by Spain would be stopped. The English press has strongly condemned this decision. Colonel Amekrane’s German wife, together with her two minor children, left Morocco on 17 August 1972, Rachid (1964) and Yasmina (1965).
Abolition of the Ministry of Defence
On 19 August, King Hassan II accuses his Defence Minister Oufkir of a perfect crime. According to the king, the general would like to kill him so that the general can set up a council of regents with the nine-year-old crown prince Mohamed as a member. In this way Oufkir, according to Hassan II, wants to take all power. However, there is no evidence to support the king’s claim. At a press conference, Hassan II announced that the posts of Minister of Defence, Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff of the army would be abolished and that he would personally interfere with the army, and added that from now on he would spend four hours a day in the army.
Captured pilots taken to Hassan II
All the pilots who shot at the Boeing were taken to the king. Colonel Amekrane is also taken to the king after he has been extradited to Morocco on the condition that he will get a ‘fair’ trial. Hassan II makes the following remark to Amekrane: “I sent you to France for treatment and you want to kill me”, he continued, “your days were already numbered, even if you don’t die for the firing squad, your illness will claim your life.” Amekrane will later declare in court that he had decided to eliminate the king after he had heard of the scandals taking place in the palace, even if the king was his own father, he had done the same.
At pilot Boukhalif, Hassan went to take a closer look at him and asked him, “How could you hit my plane with your little eyes?” Boukhalif replied, “I swear to God, if I had known in advance of the coup, I would have shot down the plane. Pilot Boukhalif was only informed in the air of the true nature of his mission.
Family of Oufkir On December 23, the family of Oufkir, his wife Fatima, six children, the youngest of whom is Abdellatif, and a daughter suffering from epilepsy, were taken by army cars to an unknown destination. They will be detained without trial for 15 years in a secret place in the Sahara, followed by 11 years’ house arrest in a penal camp 45 kilometres from Morocco’s largest city, Casablanca.
Translated by: Najat M.