Saint Lucia Police on alert after suspected terrorist escapes in Martinique

By Caroline Popovic

Saint Lucia Police are on alert after suspected Moroccan terrorist, Rachid Rafaa,  escaped house arrest in neighbouring Martinique.

A high ranking police official told the Times that considering Martinique’s proximity to Saint Lucia and this country’s porous borders, local law enforcement are on heightened alert.

According to the official, senior members of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF), are being briefed on the case.

Rachid  Rafaa, who was placed under house arrest in Martinique in the northern town of Morne Rouge, escaped on Wednesday 27 July 2016. .

Accused of being an important member of Al-Qaïda, Rafaa is a computer specialist accused by Moroccan authorities of using the internet to spread terrorist propaganda.

In 2009, he escaped from Morocco and fled to France where he was detained by the authorities while his extradition papers were prepared.

Rafaa appealed to the European Court of Human Rights to stop his extradition as he said he feared being tortured by the Moroccan police.

In 2013, he won his appeal and has been under house arrest in France ever since.

The French authorities do not know what to do with him.

Until his escape, Rafaa had committed no crime in France and he can no longer be extradited to Morocco.  

In May 2014, he was sent to Martinique where he has been under police surveillance.

His presence in Morne Rouge  has made the 5000 inhabitants of the community very uneasy.

Despite demands from the Mayor that Rafaa be moved elsewhere, the authorities have done  nothing except reassure the population that the Moroccan was being constantly watched.

Since his escape on Wednesday, the police have issued a warrant for Rachid Rafaa.

He is described as being 40 years old, very thin, approximately 5 feet 5 inches in height. His face is oval. He has dark brown eyes, mid length wavy brown hair. He is carrying a grey travel bag and a red and white striped shopping bag, the French authorities have said.