We were having our second cup of coffee on Saturday morning when we heard a loud, whooshing sound, followed by police sirens. An hour later we found out that a suicide bomber had blown himself up in front of the American Language Center, which is about a mile from our apartment. The man had tried to gain access to the ALC (which, by the way, is privately owned and is not in any way affiliated with the U.S. government) and the security guard asked for an I.D. card. The bomber then walked away, and blew himself up, killing no one but himself. A few seconds later, another bomber detonated his explosives, a few meters away from the U.S. consulate. There were no other fatalities.
Police arrived on the crime scene and chased after suspected fugitives. The evening news anchor said that the police had arrested the gang leader, the man responsible for the foiled attack of March 11, and his second-in-command on Thursday night, along with other members of the group. It’s unclear why the police didn’t announce these arrests right away, but it’s possible that they were not sure they had caught all the members of the cell, and indeed the acts of Saturday would seem to confirm that theory.
The footage on TV showed plainclothes and uniformed cops with bulletproof vests, guns drawn. Morocco does not have a gun culture so the sight of the weapons on the streets of Casablanca certainly gave me pause. Sometimes I feel like I don’t recognize the country I grew up in (just as, in the wake of the Iraq war, I felt I no longer recognized the country I moved to.) Everyone is shaken, revolted, and worried, and already citizens have called cops on someone who was acting ‘suspicious’. (It turned out to be a false alarm.)