Timeline: Barcelona and Cambrils Attacks Reveal an Organized Terror Network

Injured people react after a van crashed into pedestrians in Las Ramblas, downtown Barcelona, Spain, 17 August 2017. Photo by David Armengou/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

Barcelona

  • Death toll 14, 130 injured, 30 in serious condition
  • Thirteen of the 14 victims have been identified
  • Five were Spanish, three were German, two were Italian, with one from the United States, Belgium and Portugal respectively
  • 34 different nationalities among victims and injured
  • Islamic State claimed responsibility for twin attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils
  • Four suspects arrested
  • Police later confirmed that Moussa Oukabir, Mohamed Hychami, and Said Aallaa were among the five shot dead during Cambrils counter-terror raid, along with El Houssaine Abouyaaqoub and Omar Hychami
  • Still searching for Younes Abouyaaqoub and another two unnamed suspects.
  • It is believed two vans were used, one for the attack and one as a getaway
  • Getaway van located in the town of Vic, 80 km from Barcelona

Cambrils

  • Second terror attack took place in Cambrils, a coastal town around 120km from Barcelona, in the early hours of Friday
  • Blue Audi A3 car ploughed into a group of tourists and residents on the Paseo Maritimo
  • The Audi overturned and the attackers proceeded to attack people with an axe and machetes
  • One person died from wounds, 5 bystanders, one policeman injured
  • Five terrorists killed, among them suspects in Barcelona attack
  • Appears there has been coordinated attempt to carry out attacks in several parts of Catalonia, with tourists as a target

Alcanar

  • Explosion on Wednesday night in Alcanar, 120 miles south of Barcelona
  • Now believed to be connected to Barcelona attack
  • 6 people injured, one dead, house destroyed
  • Police found 20 canisters of butane and propane gas

Sant Just Desvern

  • One man first believed killed in a shootout at a police roadblock near Barcelona on Thursday
  • The dead man was the owner of the car, but not in the driver’s seat, turned out he was stabbed to death
  • A hunt is underway for the driver
  • Police believe the incident to be connected to other attacks

Barcelona

Thirteen of the 14 victims have been identified, although not all have been named. Five were Spanish, three were German, two were Italian, with one from the United States, Belgium and Portugal respectively. Three of the victims have been named: Italian Bruno Gulotta, a father of two,  44-year-old Elke Vanbockrijck from the Belgian town of Tongeren and Spanish 57-year-old Francisco López Rodríguez, whose wife was was seriously injured.

Authorities reported that 54 people injured in the attacks were still in hospital on Friday night, with 12 in a critical condition and 25 in a serious condition.

A seven-year-old Australian boy, Julian Alessandro Cadman, who became separated from his mother during the attack is still missing and his family is continuing to appeal for any information.

Julian Cadman, a seven-year-old Australian boy missing in Barcelona after the attack. (Photograph: Supplied)

Police confirmed that Moussa Oukabir, Mohamed Hychami, and Said Aallaa were among the five shot dead in Cabrils counter-terror raid, along with El Houssaine Abouyaaqoub, 19, and Omar Hychami, 21. They are still searching for Younes Abouyaaqoub and another two unnamed suspects.

Younes Abouyaaqoub

During the manhunt on Thursday, police issued the photo of Driss Oukabir, alleging he rented the vehicle used in the attack, where his Spanish passport had been found. After seeing his face in the international press, Oukabir reportedly handed himself to police. According to La Vanguardia, he claimed his documents had been stolen and that he was not in Barselona at the time of the attack. That led the manhunt to his younger brother Moussa Oukabir.

The broadcaster RTVE has published an image of the 18-year-old Las Ramblas suspect Moussa Oukabir.

In the hours after the attack, one man was arrested near the scene of the crime, in which a white commercial van plowed into pedestrians in Las Ramblas shopping district. According to Spanish media, the second suspect was arrested in Manlleu, some 80 kilometers north of Barcelona. A third suspect has been arrested on Friday morning in Ripoll, north of Barcelona. A fourth person has been arrested Friday afternoon in connection with the attacks, according to the Spanish media citing the police.

The van involved in incident in Barcelona. (Credit: Twitter/@Fito_Frances)

Two vans were used, one for the attack and a second as a getaway vehicle – both were rented at the same time from Telefurgo rental company in Sabadell. Second van was found abandoned in the town of Vic, 80km away from Barcelona.

Islamic State claimed responsibility via its official Amaq news site. “The perpetrators of the Barcelona attack are soldiers of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in response to calls for targeting coalition states,” the statement said.

Sant Just Desvern

Initial reports said that the third Barcelona attack suspect died after he attempted to ram police officers at the road check 3 kilometers from the scene of the attack, but it is not clear whether he was shot by the police or killed himself. However, on Friday morning, it emerged that the dead man, who was the owner of the car, was not in the driver’s seat and had in fact been stabbed to death. A hunt is now underway for the driver, and the incident is possibly linked to other attacks.

Cambrils

Several hours after the Barcelona attack, a second terror attack followed in Cambrils, a coastal town around 120km from Barcelona, in the early hours of Friday morning. A blue Audi A3 car ploughed into a group of tourists and residents on the Paseo Maritimo, injuring six people and one police officer. One, an elderly woman, died later of her wounds. After the car overturned, the attackers got out of the vehicle and continued to attack people with an axe and machetes. They were wearing fake suicide vests.

All five attackers were shot by the police – it turned out that among them were members of the cell involved in Barcelona attack – Moussa Oukabir, Mohamed Hychami, and Said Aallaa. Police also killed El Houssaine Abouyaaqoub, 19, and Omar Hychami, 21.

Spanish policemen patrol the street after five suspected terrorists were killed by the police after they knocked down six civilians with their car at Paseo Maritimo in Cambrils (Tarragona), northeastern Spain, 18 August 2017. Photo by JAUME SELLART/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

According to the authorities, none of those killed had any known links to jihadism.

Alcanar

An explosion on Wednesday night in Alcanar, 120 miles south of Barcelona, is now believed to be connected to Thursday’s attack. At the time police thought it was a gas explosion. The house was destroyed, with six people injured and one dead. Inside the house, which police believe was occupied for a few months, they found around 20 canisters of butane and propane gas.

The remains of a house in Alcanar, where one person died in an explosion police say was linked to the attack on Barcelona. (Photograph: Jaume Sellart/EPA/REX/Shutterstock)

Police believes that the house was cell’s “command”, where the attackers were working on the initial plan –  to pack a large truck with a gas bottle bomb and detonate it a busy area. Unable to rent a truck because of missing licenses, the attackers appeared to move to the plan B, building two smaller devices which could fit into two vans. However, when accidental detonation blew up the house and terror cell’s gas reserves, members opted for car-ramming attacks.

Reactions

 Barak Ben Gal, an Israeli tour guide in Barcelona, witnessed the attack. “People dropped to the ground, there were wounded. It was dozens…I’ve lived here 14 years, it’s the first time I’ve seen something like this,” he told Israeli Channel 2 in a telephone interview.

Witness Ethan Spibey told Britain’s Sky News: “All of sudden it was real chaos. People just started running screaming, there were loud bangs. People just started running into shops, there was a kind of mini-stampede where we were, down one of the alleyways.”

Mossos d’Esquadra Police officers and emergency service workers set up a security perimeter near the site where a van crashes into pedestrians in Las Ramblas, downtown Barcelona, Spain, 17 August 2017. Photo by Andreu Dalmau/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

Carol Augustin, a manager at La Palau Moja, an 18th-century place on Las Ramblas that houses government offices and a tourism information center, told British Telegraph the van passed right in front of the building. “We saw everything. People started screaming and running into the office. It was such a chaotic situation. There were families with children. The police made us close the doors and wait inside,” she said.

Mossos d’Esquadra Police officers and emergency service workers set up a security perimeter near the site where a van crashes into pedestrians in Las Ramblas, downtown Barcelona, Spain, 17 August 2017. Photo by Andreu Dalmau/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the attack was “jihadist terrorism” which required an all-encompassing response. “Today the fight against terrorism is the principal priority for free and open societies like ours. It is a global threat and the response has to be global,” Rajoy told a news conference in Barcelona, announcing he would call on other Spanish political parties to reaffirm the country’s anti-terrorism pact.

The aftermath of a van ramming attack in the Spanish city of Barcelona, August 17, 2017. (Twitter screen capture)

US President Donald Trump condemned the attack in a tweet, offering help from the United States. However, he followed up with ill advised tweet telling a long disproved story about an Army general who halted Muslim attacks in the Phillipines in the early 20th century by shooting perpetrators with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood. “Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years,” he tweeted.

“Terrorists around the world should know — the United States and our allies are resolved to find you and bring you to justice,” State Secretary of the United States Rex Tillerson said immediately after the attack.

Mossos d’Esquadra Police officers attend injured people after a van crashed into pedestrians in Las Ramblas, downtown Barcelona, Spain, 17 August 2017. Photo by David Armengou/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

World leaders, including German chancellor  Angela Merkel, French president Emmanuel Macron and Russian president Vladimir Putin condemned the attack and sent condolences to the victims. British Prime Minister Theresa May said: “The UK stands with Spain against terror.”

“We decisively condemn this cruel and cynical crime against civilians,” Putin wrote in a message of condolences to Spanish King Felipe VI.

A man sits with his head in his hands after the attack (Photograph: David Armengou/EPA/REX/Shutterstock)

Thousands of people have held a minute’s silence in Barcelona’s main square. The event was attended by Spain’s king Felipe and the Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. The silence was followed by several minutes of applause.

Barcelona is known as a center of jihadist radicalisation in Spain. A report published by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, stated that of the 178 individuals arrested in Spain in the last three years for terrorism-related activities almost a quarter came from Barcelona.

Spain has avoided extremist violence that struck France, Belgium and Germany in recent years. However, the country was the target of the deadliest jihadist attack in Europe, when bombs exploded on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people. The attack was claimed by al-Qaeda.

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