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Morocco: suspects in tourists’ killing were ‘acting alone’ | ISIS/ISIL News

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Authorities in Morocco believe four suspects involved in the killing of two Scandinavian female tourists in the Atlas Mountains were acting on their own initiative, despite having recently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, Daesh, also known as ISIS) group, an official said on Sunday.

Boubker Sabik, a spokesman for the Moroccan security and domestic intelligence services, also said the arrest of nine more people in various Moroccan cities over suspected links to the killers had foiled a “terror plot”.

The two tourists – Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, of Denmark, and Maren Ueland, 28, of Norway, were found dead early on Monday of last week with knife wounds to the neck near the village of Imlil, on a route to Toubkal, North Africa’s highest peak and a popular hiking and trekking destination.

Sabik said on the state 2M TV channel that the four suspects, aged between 25 and 33 years, had headed to the Imlil area intent on committing a crime but without selecting their target in advance.

They had pledged allegiance to ISIL in a video made on Friday before the bodies were found, but without agreeing on this in advance with any foreign entity.

‘Love wolves’

The suspects acted alone according to Sabik, describing them as “lone wolves”.

“The crime was not coordinated with the Islamic State,” he said. “Lone wolves do not need permission from their leader,” he added, without explaining how the authorities had come to their conclusion.

Thomas Hegghammer, a senior fellow at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, has described the killings as “amateurish”.

“Everything about this case seems improvised and opportunistic. I don’t think this is ordered from Daesh leadership. This looks more like an initiative from Daesh sympathisers in Morocco,” he told the Norwegian national broadcaster NRK.

Of the four suspects, one had previously served a two-year sentence in 2013 as part of a crackdown on individuals who planned on joining an ‘extremist’ group abroad, he said, adding that this suspect had radicalised the other three.

Sabik dismissed reports that one was of the suspects was a returning foreign fighter from the Middle East. He said that all four, who originated from the outskirts of Marrakech, had only informal jobs and a low level of education.

‘Terrorist plot’

Referring to the nine other suspects arrested on Friday, he said their arrests “spared Morocco a terrorist plot”.

Electronic devices, unauthorised hunting rifles, knives and materials that could be used for bomb-making were found in the course of those raids.

Sabik gave no details of this suspected plot but said Morocco is stepping up efforts to counter security threats posed by the return of ISIL fighters.

So far 242 out of 1,669 Moroccans who joined the ISIL group had been arrested, he said. Some fighters were using false passports and trying to hide among refugees heading for Europe as foreign fighters suffer setbacks in the Middle East.

Moroccan authorities were still trying to authenticate a video that has been shared on social media purporting to show the beheading of one of the victims. “The video has no background, and the clothes of the victim are not identical to those in reality,” he said.

However, the Danish intelligence service authenticated the video showing the murder of one of the victims. 

“The PET (intelligence service) confirms that a video circulating on the internet shows the murder of one of the two women killed in Morocco,” the authorities said in a statement on Thursday.

Compared with other countries in North Africa, Morocco has been largely insulated from attacks by armed groups. The most recent took place in April 2011, when 17 people were killed in the bombing of a restaurant in Marrakech.

Morocco has stepped up its effort to counter armed groups with the creation in 2015 of its own version of the FBI. The Central Bureau for Judicial Investigations has so far dismantled up to 57 cells of armed groups planning attacks in the country, including eight in 2018.

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When Ontario declared a COVID-19 health emergency last spring, the first instinct of Ottawa entrepreneur Peter O’Blenis was to preserve cash.

“We basically stopped our discretionary spending,” said O’Blenis, the co-founder and CEO of Evidence Partners, which makes software for accelerating the review of scientific and medical literature, using artificial intelligence. “We cut investments in things meant to help us grow.”

It was a defensive posture born of experience. O’Blenis had 12 years earlier nearly been crushed by the global financial crisis. Another looked to be on the way.

In 2008, O’Blenis and his colleagues, Jonathan Barker and Ian Stefanison, hit a brick wall with their first venture, TrialStat, which helped hospitals manage patients’ electronic data. While TrialStat had secured $5.5 million in venture financing just a couple of years earlier, the founders had burned through most of it during a rapid expansion. When the financial world collapsed, so did their firm.

The trio played things far more conservatively with Evidence Partners, which has relied almost exclusively on customer revenues to finance expansion.

The caution proved unnecessary. Like so many other businesses, O’Blenis underestimated the government’s willingness to keep the economy afloat with easy money. Nor did he anticipate that COVID-19 would prove a significant catalyst for the firm’s revenues so soon.

Evidence Partners is hardly the only local firm with technology particularly suited for the war against COVID-19. Spartan Bioscience and DNA Genotek adapted existing products to create technology for identifying the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Ottawa-based units of Abbott Laboratories and Siemens Healthineers make portable blood analyzers that diagnose patients afflicted by the virus.

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Shepherds of Good Hope wants to expand ByWard Market operation with eight-storey housing complex

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The Shepherds of Good Hope plans to build an eight-storey building near its current shelter for the homeless in the ByWard Market that would include supportive housing for up to 48 people, a soup kitchen and a drop-in centre.

The organization says it wants to be part of the solution to the housing crisis that has fuelled a rise in homelessness in Ottawa.

People would be moved out of the emergency shelters and into their own tiny apartments in the complex, which would include a communal dining hall and staff available to help with mental health, addiction and medical problems, said Caroline Cox, senior manager of communications for the Shepherds.

Some residents in the neighbourhood are opposed, saying services for the homeless and vulnerable should not be concentrated in one area of the city.

“I was flabbergasted,” said homeowner Brian Nolan, who lives one block from the development proposed for 216 Murray St., where currently a one-story building houses offices for the Shepherds of Good Hope.

Nolan said that, in the 15 years he’s lived in the area, it has become increasingly unsafe, with home and car thefts, drug dealing, loitering, aggressive and erratic behaviour, urinating, defecating and vomiting on sidewalks and yards and sexual acts conducted in public on his dead-end street. Before he lets his son play basketball in the yard, he checks the ground for needles and his home security camera to see who is nearby.

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Carleton University Hosts the Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City

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evehe Carleton University Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City given by Leslie Kern launches Ottawa Architecture Week. Urban geographer, author and academic, Kern will discuss how the pandemic has highlighted long-standing inequalities in the design, use and inclusivity of urban spaces. The talk will share some of the core principles behind a feminist urban vision to inform a wider vision of justice, equity and sustainability.

When
: Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.
Registration: https://alumni.carleton.ca/event-registration-architecture-forum-series-with-leslie-kern-2/.

About the Speaker

Kern holds a PhD in Women’s Studies from York University. She is currently an associate professor of Geography and Environment and director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Mount Allison University.

Kern is the author of two books on gender and cities, including Feminist City: Claiming Space in a Man-Made World (Verso). The book discusses how our cities have failed in terms of fear, motherhood, friendship, activism, the joy and perils of being alone, and also imagines what they could become.

Kern argues, “The pandemic has shown us that society can be radically reorganized if necessary. Let’s carry that lesson into creating the non-sexist city.”

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