Reuters - By Pilar Suarez and Jordi Rubio August 17, 2017
BARCELONA (Reuters) - A van plowed into crowds in the heart of Barcelona on Thursday and Spanish media reported at least 13 people were killed, in what police said they were treating as a terrorist attack.
The death toll was reported by Cadena Ser radio, citing police sources. Police said some people were dead and injured but did not confirm the number of casualties. They said were searching for the driver of the van.
Spanish newspaper El Periodico said two armed men were holed up in a bar in Barcelona's city center, and reported gunfire in the area, although it did not cite the source of the information.
It was not immediately clear whether the incidents were connected.
A source familiar with the initial U.S. government assessment said the incident appeared to be terrorism, and a White House spokeswoman said President Donald Trump was being kept abreast of the situation.
Media reports said the van had zigzagged at speed down the famous Las Ramblas avenue, a magnet for tourists.
"I heard screams and a bit of a crash and then I just saw the crowd parting and this van going full pelt down the middle of the Ramblas and I immediately knew that it was a terrorist attack or something like that," eyewitness Tom Gueller told the BBC.
"It wasn't slowing down at all. It was just going straight through the middle of the crowds in the middle of the Ramblas."
Mobile phone footage posted on Twitter showed several bodies strewn along the Ramblas, some motionless. Paramedics and bystanders bent over them, treating them and trying to comfort those still conscious.
Around them, the boulevard was deserted, covered in rubbish and abandoned objects including hats, bags and a pram.
"We saw a white van collide with people. We saw people going flying because of the collision, we also saw three cyclists go flying," Ellen Vercamm, on holiday in Barcelona, told El Pais newspaper.
El Pais said the driver of the vehicle had fled on foot.
Emergency services said people should not go to the area around Barcelona's Placa Catalunya, one of the city's main squares at the top of the Ramblas, and requested the closure of nearby train and metro stations.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he was in contact with authorities, and the priority was to attend to the injured.
The incident took place at the height of the tourist season in Barcelona, which is one of Europe's top travel destinations with at least 11 million visitors a year.
Vehicles have been used to ram into crowds in a series of militant attacks across Europe since July 2016, killing well over 100 people in Nice, Berlin, London and Stockholm.
Witness Ethan Spibey told Britain's Sky News: "All of sudden it was real chaos. People just started running screaming, there were loud bangs. People just started running into shops, there was a kind of mini-stampede where we were, down one of the alleyways."
He said he had taken refuge with dozens of other people in a nearby church.
"They've locked the doors because I'm not sure whether the person who may have done it has actually been caught, so they've locked the doors and told people just to wait in here."
Barcelona is the capital of the wealthy northeastern region of Catalonia, which plans to hold a popular vote on Oct. 1 on whether it should secede from Spain. It is in dispute with the central government, which says the vote cannot go ahead because it is unconstitutional.
In recent weeks, threatening graffiti against tourists has appeared in Barcelona. In one video released under the slogan "tourism kills neighborhoods", several hooded individuals stopped a tourist bus in Barcelona, slashed the tyres and spray-painted the windscreen.
The attack was the deadliest in Spain since March 2004, when Islamist militants placed bombs on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people and wounding more than 1,800.
Barcelona city council passed a historic declaration on Wednesday upholding the right to boycott Israel over its violations of Palestinian rights.
The motion condemns Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, calls for the immediate end to the decade-long Gaza blockade and ensures that the city’s public procurement policies exclude companies that profit from Israel’s human rights abuses.
It also admonishes Israel for its intransigence in the face of repeated warnings from the international community to stop its illegal colonization of Palestinian land, according to the Catalan daily Ara.
The council recognizes “nonviolent campaigns promoted by Palestinian and international civil society for defending international and human rights law in Palestine” – a clear nod to the BDS movement.
The city joins dozens of Spanish municipalities which have declared themselves “free of Israeli apartheid.”
A coalition of Spanish and Catalan boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) groups welcomed the vote.
“We celebrate this victory because we believe it to be a great step forward in raising the awareness of the role of local government in the defense of human rights and in breaking the complicity that inherently bolsters apartheid and the occupation of Palestine,” the groups state.
“This resolution is an institutional recognition of civil society demands for an end to complicity in violations of international law through nonviolent struggle, as practiced by the BDS movement,” the groups add.
The city’s recognition of the right to engage in Israel boycott activism, at a time when more European governments move to protect such activism, “is a triumph for free speech and democratic rights in Europe,” said Rafeef Ziadah of the Palestinian BDS National Committee.
“It gives further recognition to BDS as an inclusive, inspiring, anti-racist movement rooted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that upholds the basic principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity,” Ziadah added.
By Prof Michel Chossudovsky Global Research, August 19, 2017
“Three fatal incidents believed to be linked to terrorism occur over a 24-hour period and a 190-mile stretch of north-east Spain”
“Fourteen people have been confirmed killed in two attacks in Spain on Thursday. Thirteen died when a van was driven in to crowds on Las Ramblas in Barcelona, and one person was killed by a car in Cambrils, a coastal town 75 miles (120km) to the the south. The horrific events appear to have begun the night before, in another town 120 miles south of Barcelona.” (Guardian)
UPDATE (Saturday, August 19, 13.40pm local time, 07.40am ET)
Moussa Oukabir is dead. And now the police reports say we made a mistake, he was not the driver. There is another guy that we are going after. In the meantime two suspected drivers have been killed. One of them, according to police reports was not involved in the attacks.
How many innocent “suspects” have been killed by the police.
According to the latest media reports:
“The driver in Thursday’s van attack that killed 13 people in a tourist area of Barcelona may still be alive and on the run, Spanish police say.” (BBC) His name is Moroccan born Younes Abouyaaqoub, now named by Spanish media as the suspected driver.”
Abouyaaqoub, 22, lived in the town of Ripoll to the north of Barcelona. Three people have been arrested in Ripoll and one person in Alcanar.
Oukabir had previously been seen as the main suspect – but late on Friday police chief Josep Trapero told local TV that the theory that he was the driver now “had less weight”.
A police manhunt to arrest Younes is ongoing. Will he arrested or killed like all the other suspects
According to police sources (EARLIER REPORTS FRIDAY), the alleged suspect driver of the van Moussa Oukabir, 17 years old (18 in some news reports) in the Las Ramblas attack was shot dead by police on Friday.
“In the early hours of Friday police shot dead five attackers, including Oukabir, in Cambrils after the men drove a car into pedestrians, killing one woman and injuring six other people.
The attackers’ vehicle overturned and when the men got out they were quickly fired upon by police. One was reportedly brandishing a knife. Police chief Trapero said one officer killed four of the attackers single-handedly (BBC, August 19, 2017)
It is worth noting that two hours after the Barcelona terror attack, a suspect “was shot dead” after driving through a roadblock in Barcelona. According to police reports, he was killed by mistake: “He is now not believed to be linked to the attack.”
Moussa’s brother Driss Oukabir had initially been identified as a suspect when his ID was found at the scene of the Barcelona attack. Following the press reports concerning his ID, Driss went voluntarily to the police station saying that his ID had been stolen and he was not in any way involved in the attacks.
Was his brother Moussa (a suspect according to police reports) the perpetrator? Did a 17 year old have the required experience in driving a van in an allegedly carefully planned operation. (The minimum age in Spain to obtain a driver’s licence for a car or a van is 18 years.)
Moussa is dead, dead men do not talk. But his brother is still alive. Will he live to tell his brother’s real story?
According to the Guardian:
An official with Spain’s police union has backed up earlier reports that the teenager suspected of driving the van into crowds of pedestrians on Las Ramblas was shot dead by police during the shootout in Cambrils on Friday morning. Spanish media reported earlier on Friday that Moussa Oukabir, 17, was among the five men killed by officers after a second vehicle attack. Now, a union official has told AP colleagues in the Civil Guard police force confirmed to him Oukabir was killed in the Cambrils incident. Investigators believe Oukabir was behind the wheel of the van which ploughed into tourists in Barcelona’s city centre on Thursday, killing at least 13 and injuring 100. (Guardian, emphasis added)
(Picture: the van @KevRincon)
The following provides a partial timeline of the Barcelona and Cambrils attacks as outlined by the Guardian. We include the Guardian quotes with relevant comments. The Guardian timeline is indented, Our questions and comments are added beneath the indented quote where applicable (QC). In some cases the evidence is not available, in other cases the timeline provides contradictory and/or misleading information.
Wednesday night, Alcanar
“An explosion at a house in the small town of Alcanar, 120 miles south of Barcelona, and the southernmost point of Catalonia, kills one person and wounds 16.
Police say the blast is the result of an accumulation of gas, but do not release further details. Most injuries occur after firefighters and police officers are caught by a second blast while investigating the initial explosion.
Senior police official Josep Lluis Trapero later says the blast was related to the van attack in Barcelona the following day, and that those in the house were attempting to “prepare an explosive device”.”
QC No evidence that this event was related to the Barcelona attack on the following day
Thursday, 5pm, Barcelona
“A white Fiat van veers off the road and into a crowd outside the Plaça de Catalunya metro station.
The driver continues down the pedestrian boulevard of Las Ramblas, a popular tourist destination, for more than 500 metres before stopping and fleeing on foot.
The smashed van is left at the foot of a mosaic by artist Joan Míro.
The attack kills 13 people and leaves about 100 injured.”
“In the town of Vic, 50 miles north of Barcelona, police find a second van, presumed to be a getaway vehicle.
Police say the van was hired at the same time as the Fiat used in the attack.
The perpetrator of the Barcelona attack remains at large.
7pm, ‘terrorist protocol’
“Catalan police confirm they are dealing with a terrorist attack. On Twitter they say they have “activated the terrorist attack protocol” for the region.”
QC. What evidence do they have that this is a terrorist attack?
7.30pm, Sant Just Desvern
A man is killed when he attempts to drive through a police roadblock in the town of Sant Just Desvern, on the outskirts of Barcelona.
Initial reports say he died from police gunfire after running over two officers, leaving one with a broken leg. An official at the time ruled out a connection to the attack on Las Ramblas.
On Friday morning, the Catalan interior minister, Joaquim Forn, contradicts earlier reports, saying the man died of knife wounds not inflicted by police.
He says a connection to the other attacks can no longer be ruled out.
QC What evidence
8pm, suspect arrested
Police confirm one suspect, Driss Oukabir, has been arrested after turning himself in.
The 28-year old Moroccan-born Spanish resident is identified from documents left at the scene. But Oukabir says his passport and ID were stolen, and that he played no part in the attack.
Oukabir is arrested in the northern Catalan town of Ripoll, 70 miles from Barcelona. He tells police he came forward after he saw his name and image being circulated in the media.
The El País newspaper says Oukabir, or someone with his ID, rented the Fiat van used in the attack.
QC: Here The Guardian report is misleading. While earlier reports by El País (August 17) stated that the alleged suspect 28-year-old Driss Oukabir, had been arrested by the Police, El Nacional (quoted by the Daily Express) reported that the suspect: “presented himself at a Catalan police station in Ripoll to deny having any involvement in this afternoon’s attack. He claims his ID was stolen and used by the terrorists to rent one of the vans used for the attack. Local sources, confirmed by the town’s mayor, Jordi Munell, have said that the young man, who lives in Ripoll, attended the police station to deny any involvement in the events” (Daily Express, August 17, 2017, emphasis added)
It is worth noting that the Daily Express report contradicts its own headlines which state that he was “arrested”, when in fact he presented himself voluntarily at the the Ripoll police station. The headline is a Lie.
9pm, ISIS speaks out
“Islamic State claims responsibility for the attack.
Using the group’s Amaq news agency, Isis claims the perpetrators of the attack are “soldiers of the Islamic State”, but this has not yet been verified. Claims of responsibility by Isis do not necessarily mean there is a direct connection between attackers and the terrorist group.”
QC: ISIS was behind the attacks. It was an act of retribution against the West. The media in chorus –quoting authoritative sources– claims that the choice of Las Ramblas was “part of a strategy on the part of ISIS to target popular destinations in major cities across Europe”. “We know these people [ISIS militants] go for trophies; they go for iconic sites,” said Anthony Glees, director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Buckingham.” (CBC, August 18, 2017)
Reports state without a shred of evidence that the ISIS claimed responsibility and that the attack in Barcelona was carried out by “soldiers of the Islamic State” against “countries participating in the coalition against the ISIS in Syria and Iraq (CBC, August 18, 2017). An absurd proposition: It was the Syrian government SAA forces with the support of Russia and Iran which drove ISIS rebels out of Syria. And Russia is not the target of acts of retribution led by ISIS.
The US-led counterterrorism operation initiated by Obama in 2014 was not meant to go after the ISIS. Quite the opposite: the coalition was killing civilians while providing covert support including weapons to the ISIS.
What the media fails to acknowledge is that the ISIS is a construct of US intelligence, namely an “intelligence asset” which is supported, trained and financed covertly by Washington and its allies including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, UK, France and Israel. There is ample documentation on this issue.
The link between the intelligence services of Western governments and Al Qaeda affiliated terror organizations is crucial and cannot be denied. An understanding of who was behind the attacks must necessarily address the issue of the “State sponsorship” of terrorism.
9.30pm, second suspect arrested
A second unnamed suspect is confirmed as arrested, according to Catalonia’s regional president, Carles Puigdemont.
The police official Josep Lluis Trapero says the second man was born in the Spanish territory of Melilla in northern Morocco, and was arrested in Alcanar, the site of Wednesday’s house explosion.
Friday, 1am, Cambrils
Police kill four alleged terrorists, and injure one, after they carry out a second attack in the coastal town of Cambrils.
Police say the attackers drove an Audi A3 car into pedestrians, injuring six civilians and one police officer.
The Associated Press reports that police said that attackers were wearing what appeared to be explosive belts.
4am, injury toll
The injured suspect in Cambrils dies, bringing the number of dead suspects to five.
Police say one of the injured civilians is in a critical condition and is in hospital.
Catalan interior minister Joaquim Forn contradicts earlier reports about the roadblock in Sant Just Desvern. He says the man, who was the owner of the car, was not driving and was in the passenger seat. He was not killed by police but rather, was stabbed to death.
Forn said a connection to the other attacks was a possibility, and that a hunt was under way to find the person who drove the car to the roadblock.
The injured suspect is dead. How did he die. Was he granted first aid? Was the injured suspect killed by the police?
8.30am, third arrest
Catalonian police say they have arrested a third suspect in connection with the attacks, in Ripoll, where Driss Oukabir had been arrested on Thursday.
9.45am, suspected van driver identified
Spanish police identify 18-year-old Moussa Oukabir as the suspected driver of the van used in Las Ramblas attack, according to reports in Spanish media.
Oukabir is understood to be the younger brother of Driss Oukabir, the man arrested in Ripoll on Thursday. Driss Oukabir is reported to have told police that his identity documents were stolen before they were used to rent the van.
It should be noted that Driss Oukabir went to the police station and told them he was not involved, claiming that his ID had been stolen and used by the terrorists.
Driss’s younger brother Moussa is the suspected driver. What does this suggest. Did Moussa steal his brother’s ID? Did Driss know, when he went to the police that his brother was involved? Or did Moussa steal his brother’s ID as a means to renting the van? If Driss had known that his brother Moussa was involved, would he have gone to the police.
Missing ID or Passport
Driss’ ID was found near the attack in Barcelona.
What is important to point out is that in five previous terror attacks including Manchester, Berlin, Nice, London, New York, a passport or ID was found by the police authorities. In most cases the alleged suspect was known to the authorities.
Is there a pattern? The ID papers of the suspect are often left behind, discovered by police in the wake of a terrorist attack.
Moreover, according to government and media reports pertaining these five previous cases, the suspects were without exception linked to an Al Qaeda affiliated entity.
None of these terror suspects survived. Dead men do not talk.
In the case of Barcelona, the ID of Driss Oukabir was found at the site of the Barcelona attack. In the case of the tragic events in Manchester (May 2017), the bankcard of the alleged suicide bomber Salman Abedi was found in his pocket in the wake of the explosion.
Moussa Oukabir was killed. His brother Driss Oukabir is still alive and formally under police protection.
11.30am Overall death toll rises to 14
Police say a Spanish woman has died of injuries sustained in the Cambrils attack, taking the overall toll to 14.
12.40pm, fourth arrest
Spanish media report that a fourth person has been arrested in connection with the attacks
Friday afternoon, suspects reportedly sought
The Barcelona-based newspaper La Vanguardia reported late on Friday afternoon that the police were hunting four suspects aged 17, 18, 22, and 24. It named them as Moussa Oukabir – the suspect thought to have driven the van along Las Ramblas – Mohamed Hychami, Younes Abouyaaqoub, and Said Aallaa. All live in or close to the Catalonian town of Ripoll.
See update at top of article. These suspects were shot dead including Moussa Oukabir.
Catalan investigators have raided the house of an imam in search of possible links to the twin terrorist attacks in the Spanish city of Barcelona and a nearby coastal town of Cambrils, which left 14 dead and over 100 injured.
Early Saturday morning, police in the town of Ripoll raided the home of the local Muslim cleric, who authorities believe might have served as the spiritual leader of the terrorist cell involved in the dual attacks on Thursday and Friday.
19:25 - 18 Aug 2017
Terror timeline: How attacks unfolded in Barcelona & Cambrils — RT News
Spain is on high alert after two terrorist attacks in the space of eight hours, left 19 people dead, including five suspected terrorists, and more than 100 injured.
Officers were reportedly seeking to find DNA samples of the cleric, identified as Abdelbaki Es Satty, which might link him to the terrorist hideout in Alcanar, where an explosion destroyed a house on Wednesday.
The Alcanar house reportedly served as the base from which the terrorists were preparing their attacks. The imam went missing several days ago and was last seen Tuesday, Reuters reported citing Es Satty’s landlord.
Investigators believe he might be one of the two dead persons discovered in the rubble of the house in Alcanar.
Es Satty has been a practicing imam in Ripoll since 2015 and taught Arabic classes to young children of the congregation. He is believed to be the religious mentor of several of the identified terrorists who lived in the same town, namely: brothers Driss and Moussa Oukabirm as well as Mohammed Hychami and Younes Abouyaaqoub, who is considered the mastermind of the Barcelona attack and currently on the run.
Satty could have also influenced Said Aallaa, another terrorist cell member, who came from the town of Ribes de Freser, 13 kilometers from Ripoll.
The Ripoll imam was allegedly imprisoned at Castellón jail between 2010 and 2012 for drug-related offenses, according to anti-terrorist sources cited by El Confidencial. Neighbors of the cleric, however, note his humble behavior and his ability not to stand out from the crowd.
Authorities believe the two attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils are directly linked to Wednesday night's explosion in Alcanar where police discovered a stockpile of explosive material, including traces of triacetate triperoxide (TATP). The terrorists apparently planned to use the hideout to produce the highly unstable and jihadist-approved explosive, dubbed the “Mother of Satan,” El Pais reported.
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DETAILS: At least 1 person died & 6 were injured in house explosion in #Alcanar, Catalonia https://on.rt.com/8knc
23:28 - 17 Aug 2017
Photo published for House explosion in Alcanar, Catalonia may be linked to Barcelona terrorist attack – police — RT News
House explosion in Alcanar, Catalonia may be linked to Barcelona terrorist attack – police — RT News
An explosion Wednesday night in Alcanar Platja is believed to be linked to the Las Ramblas attack in Barcelona, regional authorities have said. Initially, police presumed it was a gas leak that...
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The terrorists originally planned a much bigger attack, allegedly eyeing Gaudi’s iconic Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona as one of its potential targets, El Espanol reported. The publication added, that the cell planned to use three hired vans loaded with explosives to carry out the atrocities.
Investigators believe that an accidental explosion in Alcanar prevented the suspects from carrying out their plot which was planned for months in advance.
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VIDEO: Policeman calming baby in aftermath of #Barcelona van attack https://on.rt.com/8kog
08:15 - 18 Aug 2017
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“They were preparing one or several attacks in Barcelona and an explosion in Alcanar stopped this as they no longer had the material they needed to commit attacks of an even bigger scope,” the head of Catalonia’s police, Josep Lluis Trapero, noted earlier.
On Thursday, a man plowed a van into pedestrians on a popular tourist street in Barcelona, killing 13 people and injuring more than 100 others. Hours later, terrorists launched a second attack in the seaside town of Cambrils, injuring seven people, one of whom later died.
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