The three German brothers, of Moroccan origin — Abu Bakr, Ottman and Omar Azaitar — who attended the controversial Saudi Arabian-funded King Fahd Academy Islamic school in Bonn, have gripped the public imagination in Morocco and beyond because of their relationship to King Mohamed VI.
Abu Bakr and Ottman are both martial arts champions with the former being the first Moroccan to sign with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). In 2018, the King was keen to meet the brothers to congratulate them on their sporting success. The meeting blossomed into a friendship and, according to media reports, Mohamed VI, started taking the brothers on vacation to the Seychelles.
The extent of this friendship remains unclear. However, Abu Azaitar has posted several pictures of himself on social media alongside the monarch, with both men clearly at ease in each other’s company. The brothers are avid social media users who regularly post pictures of themselves and show off their immense wealth; so much so that some media outlets have referred to them as the ‘Bling-Bling fighters.’
According to some press reports, as the friendship developed, Mohamed VI started to allow more access for the brothers, who became regular visitors to the Royal Palace, supporting their ventures including promoting the burger restaurant opened by Omar Azaitar in Tangiers in 2019, and allowing them to renovate an unused palace in Tangiers and turn it into a sports club.
This friendship was called into question on 1 May 2021 when Hesspress, one of the country’s most prominent online media outlets, published an anonymous article revealing the brothers’ murky past. It revealed that they had been convicted in a string of offences in Germany where they were dubbed the ‘Ferrari gangsters.’ In one case, Abu Bakr was charged with beating up a businessman and threatening to kill him by dousing him in petrol and then stealing his Ferrari. The Hesspress article asserted, ‘Theft, extortion, fraud, physical violence, criminal association, robbery and recidivism, computer fraud, driving without a license, bodily harm, causing permanent disability, assault and battery, drug trafficking, forgery and use of forgery, and resistance to law enforcement. This is the incredible pedigree of Abu Bakr Azaitar.’
That a Moroccan media outlet should have attacked the King’s friends in such a direct fashion raised eyebrows. However, although other domestic media outlets followed suit and published more articles about the brothers, the story waned and all but died down. In April 2023, however, it was resuscitated when the Economist carried a lengthy piece about the Azaitar brothers’ influence on the King that was picked up by the Times newspaper, as well as by French and Spanish media outlets.
The Economist article was quickly attacked by Hesspress, which accused it of using its sources and being late in the day to break the story. The social media posts and boasts of the Azaitar brothers’ achievements had appear to have dwindled considerably over the past year.This excerpt is taken from Morocco Focus, our monthly intelligence report on Morocco. Click here to receive a free sample copy.
The July 2023 issues of Morocco Focus also includes the following:
- Israel recognises Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara…
- EU-Moroccan Fisheries Partnership Agreement expires
- Germany develops new alliance with Morocco
- Morocco diplomatic successes hurt Algeria’s spy chief
- Senior PJD member sentenced to prison term…
- Cancellation of King’s speech sparks rumours of ill health
- The King and the kickboxing brothers…
- Renewed rumour of plots
Energy & Economy
- Attempts to address regional investment imbalance
- Shell to supply Morocco with LNG