Terrorist attacks strike fear into heart of Spain

By Julia Marnin
Staff Writer

Barcelona was ridden with fear on Aug. 17 when a terrorist drove his van into a crowd of unsuspecting people. CNN reported 13 people were killed and more than 100 others were left injured.

A memorial shrine pays tribute to terrorist victims. (AP Photo)

Related incidents occurred as a house exploded in Alcanar and a second attack ensued in Cambrils, which left five suspects killed by police, according to CNN.

These deadly events stemmed from a group of terrorists that had a deadly agenda to bomb Barcelona’s churches and monuments, according to BBC.

The man believed to be the van driver, Younes Abouyaaqoub, was at large for four days until he was shot and killed, according to BBC. Knives and fake explosives were found on him.

There are four remaining suspects believed to be apart of the terror group, BBC reported. They faced a judicial trial in Madrid.

Mohamed Houli Chemlal was the only one out of the four that has made confessions regarding the plots. Chemlal and another suspect have been charged with murder and the crime of belonging to a terrorist organization, BBC reported.

The mastermind behind the terrorist cell was a discreet imam named Abdelbaki Essati, according to The New York Times. He secretly recruited young men for the Islamic State to carry out his plans.

The final two suspects detained were not charged with crimes. Mohammed Aallaa was released on bail, while Salah ah-Karib was to undergo further investigations, according to BBC.

Essati groomed the men with beliefs rooted in jihad, instilling in them that they would be recognized as martyrs in the Koran if they died in their attacks, according to ABC.

Essati is believed to have been killed in the house explosion in Alcanar. There, he and the terrorist cell manufactured explosives that were to be used in their plots.

The New York Times reported that 100 butane gas cylinders were found in the Alcanar house. After losing their explosives to the blast, the terrorist cell’s loyalty to Essati prompted their attempts to spread terror in any way possible. The explosion in Alcanar occurred the day before the van attack.

BBC reported that in Barcelona, Abouyaaqoub decided to get behind the wheel of a van and attack the popular tourist street, Las Ramblas. Weaving through the crowded streets, he rammed into scores of unsuspecting people.

After the attack, Abouyaaqoub fled the vehicle and escaped the location, according to The New York Times. He proceeded to stab a man to death during his breakaway.

BBC reported that police were unable to stop and shoot Abouyaaqoub because the area was too packed with civilians, according to a statement issued by Catalonia’s Interior Minister Joaquim Forn.

Early the next day, another van attack occurred in Cambrils where seven people were hit and one woman died, according to BBC. The attackers were immediately shot by police. Five of the suspects in the terrorist cell were dead. They had many weapons with them along with fake explosive belts similar to what Abouyaaqoub was wearing.

BBC reported the last time Spain experienced terrorist attacks as deadly as these was in 2004.