The leader of a successful rebellion among the Berber tribes of Spanish Morocco (the Rif region) in the 1920s. By 1924 he had almost completely driven the Spanish out, and in 1925 turned his attention to the larger French part of Morocco. Spain and France united their forces under the command of Marshal Philippe Henri Petain and defeated him in 1926.
His full name was Muhammad ibn Abd al-Karim al-Khattabi, but he is always known as Abd el-Krim or Abd-el-Krim. He was born in about 1882 in Ajdir, in Morocco, and served as a judge in the Spanish sector. He was appointed chief Muslim judge for the Melilla district in 1915. For his increasing opposition to Spanish rule he was imprisoned, but once again served as judge in Melilla between 1918 and 1919
In 1920 he took up arms, and scored a victory against the Spanish in July 1921. In 1923 he declared a Rif Republic. After his surrender on 27 May 1926 he was exiled to the Indian Ocean island of Reunion. In 1947 he went to Egypt. King Muhammad V of newly-independent Morocco hailed him as a national liberator in 1958, and he made plans to return home, but died in Egypt on 6 February 1963 before he could.