Police name fugitive suspect in Barcelona terror attack
BARCELONA — Spanish authorities are hunting for Younes Abouyaaqoub, a suspect in the deadly Barcelona terror attack who police say remains at large, a spokesman for the Catalan police told CNN on Saturday.
The police spokesman also confirmed the names of three of the five suspected terrorists who were killed in a confrontation with police in the town of Cambrils hours after the attack in Barcelona: Moussa Oukabir, Said Aallaa and Mohamed Hychami.
Catalan police had not previously released the names and pictures of any of the suspects but decided to confirm those details after they began circulating on social media and in news reports, the spokesman said.
The four names and photos that have appeared in the media are of Abouyaaqoub, Oukabir, Aallaa and Hychami. Spanish media report that Abouyaaqoub is a 22-year-old Moroccan national.
As details of the atrocity in Barcelona were still emerging, a group of five attackers drove into pedestrians in the town of Cambrils, killing one and injuring six, in the early hours of Friday. Police shot dead the five attackers, who they said were armed with knives, axes and fake explosive belts.
Four people have been arrested, three in the town of Ripoll and one in the village of Alcanar.
The man arrested in Alcanar was seriously injured in a blast which leveled a house in the Montecarlo area of the town Wednesday night, police said. One person was killed in the blast. Police said Friday there were other “biological remains” found at the site, but it is unclear whether they belong to a different person.
Police suspect the property was being used as a base to make explosives that could have been used in even more devastating attacks in Barcelona, Cambrils and possibly elsewhere.
A source briefed on the investigation said a preliminary assessment of the Alcanar property indicated there were traces of the powerful explosive TATP in the rubble.
A tweet from the police Saturday morning warned that they were about to carry out several controlled explosions in Alcanar. “If you hear detonations DO NOT be alarmed,” the force tweeted.
Catalan police chief Josep Lluis Trapero on Friday told reporters that Wednesday’s explosion meant the attackers were unable to use material they were planning to deploy in attacks.
The attack in Barcelona, capital of the Spanish region of Catalonia, was therefore “more rudimentary than they originally planned,” Trapero said.
Trapero said there were believed to be about 12 suspects in the terror cell altogether.
Trapero said the suspects in the Alcanar house had been trying to “make explosives out of butane gas among other things.”
Saturday’s controlled explosions may help authorities to understand what materials and methods were involved in the terrorists’ planning.
TATP is made by adding an acid to a mixture of acetone and hydrogen peroxide solution and can easily result in accidental detonation if mistakes are made in preparation. It is a high explosive that is much more powerful than that used in the April 2013 Boston bombings that killed three people and wounded more than 250 others.
TATP was used in the November 2015 Paris attacks, the March 2016 Brussels bombings, the May Manchester bombing and a failed bomb attempt by an Islamist extremist at the Gare Centrale in Brussels in June.
Many Islamist terrorists who have successfully made TATP have received some form of terrorist training.
Crowds show defiance, solidarity
In Barcelona, crowds returned to Las Ramblas on Saturday morning and street vendors were once again selling drinks and ice cream from kiosks on the Plaça de Catalunya, close to where Thursday’s attack started.
Plenty of tourists could be seen, although there was still an obvious a security presence at the entrances to metro stations.
On Friday, many residents and visitors joined a vigil for the attack victims and marched in solidarity, chanting: “We are not afraid.” Flowers, candles and messages of support were left at makeshift memorials along Las Ramblas.
King Felipe, the Spanish head of state, was expected to visit injured survivors of the attack in two hospitals on Saturday.