New details emerge about suspected Spain terrorist attacks’ mastermind

World Today

A police van drives away with a detained suspect after a search of a building in Ripoll, north of Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. Police on Friday shot and killed five people carrying bomb belts who were connected to the Barcelona van attack, as the manhunt intensified for the perpetrators of Europe’s latest rampage claimed by the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

New details are emerging about the supposed mastermind of twin terrorist attacks in Spain, an imam named Abdelbaki Es Satty.
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CGTN’s Guy Henderson reports from the town of Ripoll.

For 2 years, Abdelbaki Es Satty was a regular at Ripoll’s “Hope” cafe.

Those who knew the Imam, now thought to have led a Spanish terrorist cell, say they never saw anything to make them concerned. His sudden absence raised no suspicions.

“He used to come here to have coffee or charge his phone,” according to Ripoll resident Mohammed Chochavar. “He left for 6-7 months and then came back. I don’t know why he left. But then the community here called him and asked him to come back. He was a serious person -he was always talking to people – and he never showed any kind of Jihadi or radical intent.”

That’s what the mosque he worked at also said.

The still-sought prime suspect, Younes Abouyaaqoob, sometimes attended as well. Though according to the register, he hadn’t paid his dues for months.

His successor said Es Satty filled a vacancy when it came up. They didn’t know his background.

“I didn’t know he’d been in prison until yesterday when I read it in the paper,” Ali Yassine, president of the Al Nour Islamic Society, said. “If the state knows he’s been in prison, it’s up to them to warn people and make sure he doesn’t practice anywhere.”

The mayor’s office agrees, and said the Islamic community itself is playing its part.

“The president of the Islamic community explained to us two days ago that if they detect any change in doing the religion [sic], the community could change the Imam,” Ripoll Deputy Mayor Jordi Gumi said.

Es Satty may now be dead, killed in an explosion in an apparent bomb factory.

The details emerging about his life are more and more concerning.

Police now say Abdelbaki was jailed in 2010 for smuggling marijuana. Spanish media report that in prison he met a man named Rachid Aglif, who’s serving 18 years for his part in the 2004 Madrid train bombings. Aglif was also once arrested on charges of recruiting young men to fight in Iraq.

Nuno Pinto on Moroccan youth targeted by terror propaganda

CGTN’s Wang Guan spoke with Nuno Pinto, author of “The Portuguese Fighters of the Islamic State.” Wang asked Pinto if he’d be surprised if the suspects come from Catalonia’s Moroccan community.