20th October 2019
Felipe VI, Puigdemont and Rajoy
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Terrorist mastermind helped by Spanish intelligence to become imam, say reports

Spain’s Intelligence Service (CNI) helped the mastermind of the 2017 Barcelona terror attacks to become an imam in Ripoll, where the subsequent cell was based, three years before the incidents, according to an on-going report by the Público digital newspaper.

Spain’s secret services recruited Abdelbaki Es Satty as an informant in 2014, in exchange for not deporting him, says the same source.

ALSO READ: Terrorists tracked by Spanish intelligence 5 days before attacks, say reports

These are the main items in the media outlet’s third report on the links between the CNI and Es Satty, which lays out evidence that the mastermind of the attacks was an informer for the secret services right up until the events on La Rambla.

The report also states that a paper written by the secret services shows that some cell members were tracked and their conversations tapped until five days before the deadly incidents, although they were unable to prevent the 16 fatalities caused by the events on 17-18 August 2017.

Felipe VI, Puigdemont and Rajoy
Felipe VI (centre), former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont (right) and former Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (left) attending a remembrance ceremony after the terrorist attack in Barcelona in August 2017. (Maria Fernandez / via ACN)

In its third report, Público says that Es Satty spent four years in jail from 2010 to 2014 for drug dealing, and it is during this period that he was hired as an informant.

ALSO READ: Barcelona terror attack mastermind was informer for Spanish intelligence, say reports

Mentioning sources of CNI itself, he was told that if he collaborated, he would not be deported – when he finished his sentence, the government seat decided to send him back to his country, Morocco, but a judge overturned the decision.

Carlos Enrique Bayo, the journalist signing the article, also states that the secret service ‘fixed recommendations and guarantors’ so that he could be admitted as imam in Ripoll, where presumably he created the cell.

CNI’s intention, reads the text, was for him to infiltrate in the European jihadist networks.

ALSO READ: Questions remain a year after Barcelona terror attack

The report has sparked outrage in the past few days among Catalan politicians. On Thursday, the Esquerra Republicana (ERC) party called on the European Council and EU Commission to ask Spain for an explanation over the issue.

Through a parliamentary question, MEP Diana Riba has also called for the Catalan police, the Mossos d’Esquadra, to be granted access to international bodies such as Interpol, Europol and Sirene.

ALSO READ: Focus on Ripoll: a year after Barcelona terrorist attacks

Also on Thursday, the Catalan government spokesperson sent a letter to Spain’s executive second-in-command to ask her for a meeting over the controversy.

She urges Madrid an ‘explanation’ on Es Satty so that it can ‘put an end to social unrest’.

ALSO READ: No evidence Barcelona attackers had international links: police

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