Rascally Er Raissouli

Bandit, kidnapper and general troublemaker, Moulay Ahmed Ben Mohammed Er Raissouli (or Raisuni) was one of Asilah’s most legendary inhabitants. He started life as a petty crook in the Rif Mountains and saw no problem in bumping off unwilling victims, leading to him becoming renowned as a merciless murderer and feared right across the region.

Internationally, Er Raissouli was best known for kidnapping Westerners. He and his band held various luminaries to ransom, including Greek-American billionaire Ion Perdicaris, who was ransomed in 1904 for US$70,000.

In an attempt to control the unruly outlaw, consecutive sultans appointed him to various political positions, including governor of Asilah and later Tangier. However, Er Raissouli continued with his wicked ways, amassing great wealth in whatever way he could. He held considerable sway over the Rif tribes and the Spanish funded his arms in the hope of keeping order in the mountains, but Er Raissouli often used them against his benefactors.

The Spaniards eventually forced Er Raissouli to flee Asilah after WWI, but he continued to wreak havoc in the Rif hinterland until January 1925, when the Rif rebel Abd Al Krim arrested him and accused him of being too closely linked with the Spanish. Er Raissouli died from natural causes two months later.