In Subriats, Spain, a small town 30 miles west of Barcelona, where the tragic attack occurred that ripped apart Spain in the past week, has finally reached its conclusion. On Monday, police had tracked down and killed the driver of the initial van attack, Younes Abouyaaqoub.
The fugitive, Abouyaaqoub, was discovered through a tip off to police outside a sewage treatment plant in the small town which, upon the tip, which went under complete lockdown with residents being advised to stay inside. The suspect was found to have had a fake explosive belt on, with his final words being “Allahu Akbar”(God is greatest) before being shot and killed by police.
A local resident, Guillem Sánchez, told Catalan TV he then heard “as many as 20 shots” being fired.
The events began on Thursday in Barcelona when a van attacked pedestrians, killing 13 and injuring over a 100. The driver of the van was able to flee the area leading to a continent-wide effort to find the man connected to the attacks. On Friday morning, a driver, Pau Pérez, was found dead in his car after a carjacking which was thought to be how Abouyaaqoub escaped the city.
The death of the suspect was the culmination of a massive police effort in the four days after the initial attack, which also led to the subsequent arrest or death of the remaining members of a suspected ISIS cell operating in the area.
Meanwhile, after the fact, it was found that a house explosion on Wednesday night near Alcanar (south of Barcelona) was also connected to the cell, as the house was being used as a bomb factory to help further other attacks in the region.
As such, of the twelve man cell connected to the attack, four are currently in custody, six have been killed by the police, and two have been found dead in the remains of the house explosion. Despite this, the police are still continuing the investigation into the international links behind the attacks.
Furthermore, Abouyaaqoub, his brothers and cousins were all of Moroccan origin. Relatives interviewed about the attackers said that the men were known to go out to nightclubs and drink. but that all changed three years ago when they began to embrace more conservative values.
Police have identified Imam Abdelbaki Essati as the man who created the cell based out of the town of Ripoli a year ago. The Imam has had a history of radicalization, after meeting the members of Spain’s largest terrorist attack, the 2004 Madrid train bombings, in prison. After his release, he was denied a position at a mosque near Brussels as the elders thought his approach was “radicalised and polarising.”
Moreover, the attacks have been claimed by the Islamic State, but the connection between the attacks and the group have yet to come to light.
Meanwhile, at a news conference in Madrid, Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido praised the “fluid” cooperation between the authorities in Barcelona and Madrid since the attacks. Mr. Zoido urged citizens to join a march next Saturday in Barcelona to condemn terrorism. “We all make ours the suffering of Barcelona,” he said.
The attack is the latest in a string of attacks that have plagued Europe throughout the past few years, with attacks correlated to radicalization increasing dramatically and having affected the major European nations. This attack adds fuel to the argument of many in Europe who blame the continents open immigration stance for many of the attacks in recent years. With that said, it remains to be seen how tragedies like this will affect policy for newcomers in the months and years to come.