Abdellatif Hammouchi, the best informed man in Morocco and a great friend of France

It is on a fast track, in 2004, that the Moroccan journalist Ali Lmrabet for the first time crossed the path of Abdelatif Hammouchi, the all-powerful head of the intelligence services of the kingdom.

Reporting in Sidi Ifni, by the ocean, Ali Lmrabet is chased. “Cars followed me and intimidated me. One of them gave me a fishtail. I stopped at a gendarmerie roadblock; they went to see my pursuers and then came back to me: “Mr. Lmrabet, we can’t do anything, it’s the DST [direction de la surveillance du territoire]… ”Even though I had not given my name! At the time, I filmed them and accused them of wanting to kill me. A guy on the sidelines then called a “Mr. Abdellatif” to ask for instructions… ”

Unknown to the general public, Abdellatif Hammouchi was not yet the man who “Terrorizes everyone in Morocco”, according to the formula of Ali Lmrabet; nor the one that the investigators of the “Project Pegasus” cross in the heart of the Moroccan part of the affair.

Because, today, Abdelatif Hammouchi heads an institution accused of having spied or attempted to spy on thousands of people, such as Ali Lmrabet, a refugee in Spain, and targeted by the Israeli spyware Pegasus in March 2019 on behalf of Rabat. . And like a long list of victims in France, where the phone numbers of Emmanuel Macron and fifteen ministers have been selected for possible targeting; as well as the numbers of at least 40 Moroccan, French and Algerian journalists selected or targeted.

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Long mysterious ascension

If the “super-cop” of the kingdom, 55, today embodies the authoritarian drift of a regime that has eyes and ears everywhere, the rise of Mr. Hammouchi, who took the head of counter-espionage in 2005 at only 39 years old, has long remained a mystery.

“Hammouchi is a ‘son of the people’. He was born in the vicinity of Taza, not far from the Rif, and studied law, in Arabic, at the University of Fez. He did not come from a large family ”, notes Omar Brouksy, former correspondent for Agence France-Presse in Rabat, targeted by Pegasus, and whose latest book, His Majesty’s Republic. France-Morocco, dangerous links (Éditions Nouveau Monde, 2017), describes the toxic relationship that binds the French elites to the kingdom.

It was from these university years, at a time when the Fez campus was the scene of epic battles between Islamists and the radical left, that his reputation for having worked as a police informer came to him, notes Ali Lmrabet.

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