Haddou Aqchich

A glimpse into the life of colonel Haddou Aqchich, one of the most important kidnapped Riffian leaders.

Haddou Abdesslam Aqchich, is also referred to as Ahmed Abdeslam Arifi in several historical references. He was born in 1918 in the village of Tamasint, the stronghold of Imrabden, in the tribe of Ait Waryagher, the province of Al Hoceima. After he learned the Islamic teachings and knew the Quran by heart in many Riffian mosques, he left his birth place to pursue his studies in an institute in Tetouan where he dedicated his time to studying and engaged himself in the student’s union and protest movement of the institute, which aims to defend the right to a scholarship and for students to have decent meals for lunch.

His militant activities and his political concerns led him to be expelled from the institute. He afterwards moved to fes to continue his studies in one of its institutions where he was expelled for the same reasons mentioned earlier. Then he decided to go back to Tetouan engage in political activities against the Spanish colonization of the Rif. In 1945 Spanish troops arrested him and he was put on house arrest in his home town. Thanks to the help of one of his friends he managed to flee his village without even informing his family members and he went into exile in Cairo, Egypt.

The first thing he did when he went to Egypt was look for the residence of Abdelkrim El Khattabi, who convinced him to pursue his studies in Al-Azhar University, El khatabi discovered the courageous positions of Haddou Aqchich, which was the reason why he was suggested in the first military mission which was sent in the 01st October, 1948 so as to be trained in the military faculty in the capital city of Iraq, Baghdad. The military training aimed to form the nucleus cells of the Army of Liberation whose purpose was achieving full-fledged independence of North African countries.

He graduated on the 30th of June 1951, with the second lieutenant grade. After that he joined the groups appointed by El Khattabbi to execute revolutionary missions in Algeria and Libya, he participated in the supplication of munitions to Algerian warriors and the formation of more than 30 000 Algerian and Libyan warriors. It is also said that he was the instigator of resistance in the Aures mountains in Algeria.

With his return to Tetouan in the late 50’s (1956 to be exact) he executed a number of missions assigned to him by Abdelkrim El Khattabi. But he was arrested soon by occupation forces which transferred him to Ceuta and incarcerated him for 3 months under the charge of a coup d’état.

After being set free he returned to his birth place and went to the villages and popular markets in the region of Alhoceima and to places where lot’s of people gathered; he was explaining to people the different conspiracies against the country and made them aware of the position of the leader El Khattabi on the cursed Aix-Les-Bains agreement which gave morocco quasi independence instead of true independence for which the people had struggled.

He called them to continue supporting armed resistance until the total withdrawal of occupation forces is imposed, and the true colours of the collaborators were unmasked. He always repeated that “the future of the Rif is linked to the life of its leader Abdelkarim El Khattabi”.

So to achieve their malicious goals , governors and partisans fought every one involved with Abdelkrim, their methods were; extermination, kidnapping, torturing, and incarceration in jails and secret prisons which they set up in many places for the aforementioned purposes. At the end of April( some say May ) of 1956 , the family house of Haddou Aqchich was subject to an assailment by an armed commando composed of dozens of fighters. The family members tried at first to confront the commando but they were out numbered and their house would be besieged. Then Haddou Aqcich was arrested. When they were taking him to their car he told his mother; “ we fell between the hands of the despicable, but if I am destined to live I will live with dignity or die honourably.

Haddou Aqchich had not appeared since his kidnapping by the commando. It is said that he was assassinated by the militias of the al Istiqqlal party which spread death, terror and fear among the inhabitants of the Rif. He is also said to have been tortured savagely by Allal Al-Fasi, Torris, and Mehdi Ben Barka. In his book “ Brisha’s House or The Story of a Kidnapped”, Mehdi Momni Tajkani mentioned that Haddou Aqchich was murdered in Jnan abricha near Tetouan , the place which was used by the al Istiqqlal party to torture faithful militants. It was said that he was buried in a deserted anonymous place.

Whatever the destiny of Haddou Aqchich was, the ultimate truth is that he was kidnapped by those who conspired against the nation and whose interests were endangered by the perseverance of the resistance to achieve total independence, and those who favoured government positions over the lives of the loyal sons of the country.

It is worth mentioning that the equity and justice committee ignored, in its general report, any reference to the kidnapping of Haddou Aqchich, nor did it investigate his case. His name was not even included in the list of the kidnapped whose fate is still unknown. They were content with calling his brother Mhamed Lamrabet (Aqchich) to one of the committee’s sessions, to talk for a few minutes about His brother Haddou and the suffering of the family and his father who was detained during the Rif revolution and sentenced to death. Although he obtained a pardon decision he remained in jail for 4 more years. He was suffering from different illnesses by the time he was set free.