A Moroccan boy who used empty plastic bottles to swim to Spain's North African enclave of Ceuta this week said he would rather die than go back to Morocco, according to the Spanish soldier who translated for him before he was escorted away.
The boy attracted international media attention as he floated in a dark T-shirt with the bottles under his clothes and attached to his arms, crying as he reached the beach only to be led away by soldiers.
Al Messaoui, who speaks Moroccan Arabic, or Darija, said he tried to put his feelings to one side to help calm those arriving on the beach, acting as a translator for his Spanish army colleagues.
"You feel frustrated, desperate that you can't do more for that boy," he said.
Asked what he would tell the parents of young Moroccans eager to cross over to Ceuta, he said: "Not to let them go, to be with them, and to be united as a family even if there are difficulties of life in their country... not to let them drift away alone, desperate, helpless."