Who was Abd el-Krim el-Khattabi?
Abd el-Krim el-Khattabi (1882-1963, Cairo) was a Rifian political and military leader. He and his brother Mahemmed led a large-scale revolt by a coalition of Berber-speaking Rif tribes against French and Spanish colonization of the Rif, an area of northern Morocco. The rebels established the short-lived Republic of the Rif. Abd el-Krim's guerrilla tactics influenced Ho Chi Minh, Mao Zedong, and Che Guevara.
Abd el-Krim entered the Spanish administration, first as a secretary in the Bureau of Native Affairs and later he was appointed chief qadi for Melilla in 1915. He taught at a Hispano-Arabic school and was an editor for the Arab section of the newspaper, El Telegrama del Rif.
During World War I, he was arrested by the Spanish authorities for anti colonial activities including alleged involvement in a conspiracy with the German consul Dr. Walter Zechlin (1879–1962). He was imprisoned in Chaouen from 1916 to 1918, then escaped. He regained his job as a judge in Melilla. At the end of the war, he returned to his home at Ajdir in January 1919. He was alarmed by the appearance of Spanish agents in Ayt Weryaghel tribal territory and decided to fight for his tribe's independence. The following year, Abd el-Krim, together with his brother, began a war of rebellion against the Spanish incursions. His goal was to unite the tribes into an independent Republic of the Rif; to dismantle the entire French-Spanish colonial project in Morocco, and to introduce modern political reform.