By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 8/24/2005 | 8:15 pm
Sanae and Imane laghriss, who benefited from a Royal Pardon last Friday, told Morocco Times they were victims of fundamentalist thought. The twin sisters were sentenced to 5 years imprisonment in Jan. 2004 for belonging to a Rabat terrorist group, who planned to bomb sites in Morocco's capital.
“The period we spent in the prison made us realize that we were totally wrong”, they said.
The 16-year-old Sanae and Iman were accused of forming criminal gang to carry out terrorist acts, gathering money to fund terrorist activities, begging, defaming sacred symbols, organizing public meetings without authorities' permission and conspiring against the King and His Royal Family.
The two young girls volunteered to commit suicide bombings in the parliament building and in “Al hayat Al jamila” supermarket in Rabat. They were arrested while holding pamphlets defaming HM the King, tapes inciting extremism and fighting what the “Assalafiyah Al Jihadia” group calls “the tyrant”.
“We were overwhelmed with joy when we heard about the Royal Pardon. I want to live a normal life with my twin sister and my mother. I wish I can be able to find a job and settle down”, said Sanae.
The twins were transferred to the 'Abdessalam Bennani Center for Childhood Protection' in Casablanca after having benefited from the King's pardon.
Sanaa was arrested when 12 officers took hold of her mobile containing numbers of the “Muslim brothers” phones and SMS venerating Ossama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda cell.
Iman told Morocco Times that officers also took hold of some tapes, among them “disbelieving the tyrant”, which is a tape of the Saudi missioner Bichr Bnou Fahd Al Bichr. Police also seized another tape entitled “what is Taliban government” and leaflets containing sentences of defamation of the King.
Sanaa thinks that poverty and her separation with her sister drove them to get drifted into extremist thoughts. “Since 2002, we were pushed to volunteer in suicide bombings by the Muslim brothers,” she said.
Assia Al wadie, a member of the Mohammed VI Institution for the Reintegration of Prisoners stressed that “the twin sisters are now more in need of protection so that they may not end up in the street.”
The Judge of the Court of First Instance in Casablanca has ordered to keep the two sisters in the 'Abdessalam Bennani Center for Childhood Protection' temporarily till they reach the legal age, in case their family did not contact them.
Responding to the Royal Pardon, Abdelfattah Zahrach, the sisters' lawyer, told Morocco Times he was “grateful to the King, especially since it concerned two adolescents victim of terrorist and obscurantist ideology”.
The lawyer appealed to the civil society to “adopt” the twins who were still, in the Abdesslam Bennani Centre in Casablanca. According to Assia Elwadie, responsible for the Reform centre for young delinquents, the twins will come under the procedure for children in precarious situation, given that they are minors and that their mother is incapable of looking after them.
Sanaa and Imane were among the 77 Islamists who had benefited from the Royal Pardon last weekend.
A total of 121 prisoners, tried under the anti –terrorism law, had benefited from the Royal Pardon. Seventy of them were released on Saturday on the occasion of the Revolution of the King and the People's Day, seven were released on Sunday on the occasion of the Youth Day, and forty-four others had benefited from Royal Pardon on other occasions.
Among the freed prisoners Abdelqadar Labssir, who was sentenced to 16 years for the planning for a blast in Rabat. Labssir went on hunger strike for 67 days, before he was released. The two others were Mohammed Hadri who was sentenced to 8 years, and Abdelkbir Sikel who was sentenced to 6 years. All the freed prisoners had spent only two years in prison.
A communiqué of the Ministry of Justice said that the freed prisoners were obedient, had behaved well, and promised not to return to their crimes and to give up their fundamentalist ideas. The release added that they expressed their desire to reintegrate in the society as good citizens.