While most of us are familiar with notorious American serial killers such as Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, and Jeffrey Dahmer — who is the subject of Netflix’s latest disturbing series Dahmer— Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story — not much is known about the terrifying murderers who killed several people in countries like Tunisia, Iraq, and Morocco. Below, some of the most dangerous and deranged serial killers from the Middle East and North Africa that you likely have never heard of.
Hadj Mohammed Mesfewi
Known as “Marrakesh Arch-Killer,” Mesfewi drugged, mutilated, and murdered at least 36 women before his execution by immurement (he was walled up alive) in 1906. The convicted murderer worked as a shoemaker in the Moroccan city and was aided by a 70-year-old woman named Annah, who would help him decapitate young women who came to his shop. Moroccan authorities found the remains of 20 bodies in a deep pit under his shop, and another 16 were discovered in the garden outside. He later confessed that he killed the women for money.
Ali Asghar Borujerdi
The Iranian serial killer moved to Iraq as a child with his family, where he began assaulting, raping, and later murdering, adolescent boys in Baghdad when he was fourteen-years-old. He was convicted in Tehran after escaping to the city in 1933 and eventually executed for killing 33 young adults, most from Baghdad.
Ramadan Abdel Rehim Mansour
The Egyptian street gang leader and serial killer murdered and sexually assaulted at least 32 children (all of his victims were 10 to 14) over the course of seven years in Cairo, Alexandria, Qalyoubeya, and Beni Sueif by luring them onto the carriage roof of the trains, where he then raped and tortured them, before tossing their bodies onto the trackside. Some of the children were dumped into the Nile, or buried alive. The gruesome crimes came to light in 2006 when two of Mansour’s gang members were arrested, and Mansour acquired the nickname “al-Tourbini” meaning “Express Train,” for the location he committed the crimes. After the arrest, the murderer reportedly told prosecutors that he was possessed by a female jinn who made him commit the crimes. He was executed by hanging in 2010.
Known as the “Slaughterer of Nabeul,” the serial killer was convicted for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of fourteen minors in Nabeul, Tunisia, including the murder of his ex-fiancee’s 13-year-old son in France. Damergi was executed in 1990 for his crimes— he was the last person against whom capital punishment was carried out in the North African country. The man who carried out the death sentence against the serial killer said in an interview with a magazine that the execution process typically does not exceed 5 minutes, but it took Damergi 14 minutes before he drew his last breath, stating that “it was as if God wanted to torture him every minute.”
The Yemeni serial killer was imprisoned in Aden after murdering seven people in 1990. However, he escaped and was not found until the beginning of August 1998, when he killed a couple in Bayt al-Faqih, along with three other people who witnessed the crime. That same month, the murderer got into a shoot-out with the police, killing one policeman and injuring several others before being shot himself.
The serial killer targeted sex workers in Iran from 2000 to 2001, killing 16 women by luring them home while his wife and kids were away and strangling them. He claimed he was attempting to “cleanse sin from the city.” When the murders first began occurring, residents feared extremist religious groups were behind the actions. Eventually, one of Hanaei’s would-be victims escaped after punching him in the stomach and fleeing, which led police to Hanaei, who confessed. In 2002, he was executed by hanging in Mashhad Prison. He expressed no remorse the day before his execution, saying his victims were worth no more than cockroaches to him. The story of the man known as the “Spider Killer” has now been the subject of three films, including Holy Spider, which was directed by Ali Abbasi and screened at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival this year.