Police warn Barcelona attack fugitive ‘dangerous, possibly armed’
The Spanish police warned Monday that the suspected driver of a van that trapped pedestrians in Barcelona was dangerous and probably armed, while a hunting of the Moroccan population is widening all over Europe.
The police in Catalonia issued a call for information about the fugitive, Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22, considered the last remaining member of a 12-man cell.
The other suspects were killed by the police or detained following last week’s attacks in Barcelona and the seaside resort of Cambrils. The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the assaults, supposed to be the first in Spain.
The authorities on Monday raised the death toll of attacks to 15, confirming that Pau Perez, a 34-year-old man found stabbed dead in a Ford Focus outside Barcelona on Friday, was killed by Abouyaaqoub.
Police had fired on the car as she forced the checkpoint shortly after the carnage of Barcelona, and later found Perez stabbed dead in the vehicle.
Investigators believe that the victim was the owner of the car, which was diverted by Abuyaaqoub to make its exit after the aggression of Barcelona.
Describing Abouyaaqoub about 1.80 meters high, the police tweeted four photographs of the man with short black hair, including three photos in which he wore a black and white striped T-shirt.
It is “dangerous and could be armed”, police said Monday in Catalonia, as officials announce that they have identified the 15 victims in the assaults.
The Spanish authorities also officially informed European police on Monday of the identity of the suspect to allow the launch of a human hunt in Europe.
“We have to talk to the European police to inform them of the identity because this person … is probably wanted in all the European countries,” declared the Minister of the Regional Interior of Catalonia, Joaquim Forn.
Researchers seeking to unravel the terrorist cell have settled on the small border town of Ripoll, at the foot of the Pyrenees.
Many of the suspects, including Abuyaaqoub, grew up or lived in the city.
A Moroccan imam, Abdelbaki Es Satty, aged 40, was also examined because he is supposed to have radicalized youth in Ripoll.
Police attacked more homes in Ripoll on Monday, Forn said.
The police said the imam had spent time in prison and had already been in contact with a suspect wanted on terrorism charges but was never charged with terrorist incidents himself.
In Belgium, the Mayor of the Vilvoorde region told AFP that Satty spent time in the Brussels suburb of Machelen – a neighborhood next to the city’s airport – between January and March 2016.
On the other side of Brussels, the suburb of Molenbeek gained notoriety as a home of international jihadists after the bombing of Brussels in March 2016 and the attacks of Paris in November 2015.
In the Moroccan town of M’rirt, relatives of Abouyaaqoub also accused the imam of radicalizing the young man and his brother Houssein.
“Over the past two years, Younes and Houssein have started to radicalize under the influence of this imam,” their grandfather told AFP.