Spanish attacks death toll rises to 16 after woman dies in hospital | World news

The number of people killed in two vehicle attacks in Spain last week rose to 16 on Sunday after a German woman died from her injuries, local authorities in Barcelona have said.

“This morning a 51-year-old German woman died after being treated in a critical condition in hospital,” said a statement from the region’s civil defence.

The attacks in Las Ramblas in Barcelona and in the seaside resort of Cambrils left about 120 people wounded. Authorities say 24 people remain in hospital, with five in critical condition and four in a serious condition.

The woman, who has not been named, died on Sunday in the intensive care unit of Hospital del Mar in Barcelona, according to the regional health department.

The woman was hurt when a van ploughed through crowds of tourists on Spain’s most famous street on 17 August. The attack was claimed by the Islamic State terror group.

Hours later, a car sped into Cambrils, about 75 miles (120km) south of the city, hitting people before crashing into a police vehicle.

The five occupants of the Audi A3 jumped out and went on a stabbing spree, killing a woman, before they were shot dead by police.

Another man was stabbed to death in a carjacking as the driver of the van that was driven into pedestrians in Las Ramblas made his getaway. The driver of the van, identified as 22-year-old Younes Abouyaaqoub, was shot dead by police after several days on the run.

Police said they believed a 12-man terror cell had planned and carried out the attacks. Eight are dead, while four appeared in court in Madrid last week. An investigation into the cell’s possible international links is ongoing.

According to reports in Spanish media, the cell had planned a much bigger attack, with possible targets including the Sagrada Família, Antoni Gaudí’s much-loved, half-finished church in Barcelona.

About 500,000 people marched on Saturday in Barcelona to condemn the attacks under the slogan no tinc por (I am not afraid).

The march was led by police and members of the emergency services, as well as taxi drivers who had helped evacuate people at the time of the attack. They were followed by King Felipe VI – the first Spanish monarch to join a march since the monarchy was re-established in the 1970s – the prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, and the Barcelona mayor, Ada Colau, among other prominent political leaders.

Rajoy had appealed to all sides of the political spectrum to take part in the march to show that “Catalonia and the rest of Spain [are] united against terror”.

Some pro-independence marchers turned out bearing their flags and booed both the king and the prime minister.

Colau made no reference to the booing in her speech afterwards when she said: “Today more than ever we are proud to be the capital of Catalonia because people have come from all over the country.”

Pugdemont commented that despite the “legitimate political disagreements” the eulogy to the victims had been dignified.

People continued to light candles and lay flowers in Las Ramblas on Sunday in memory of the victims.

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Spain attacks: thousands march through Barcelona in show of defiance | World news

Hundreds of thousands of people marched down Barcelona’s broad Passeig de Gràcia this afternoon behind the slogan no tinc por (I am not afraid), in a show of defiance after last week’s terror attacks that left 15 people dead and over 100 injured in Barcelona and Cambrils.

The protest, the largest in the city since some two million protested against the Iraq war in 2003, was called by the city council and the Catalan government. Ada Colau, the Barcelona mayor, called on people to “fill the streets to overflowing” and to show unity in the face of threats of further attacks on Spain from so-called Islamic State.

The march was led by police and members of emergency and voluntary services. Determined to present a united front in the midst of the simmering secessionist row and with Catalonia’s controversial independence referendum barely a month away, the Spanish political establishment turned out in force behind them.

Led by Felipe VI, the Spanish king, the prime minister Mariano Rajoy marched alongside an array of senior government officials, opposition leader Pedro Sánchez, the Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, leaders from several of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions, the mayor of Madrid and the heads of the two main trade unions.

People stand around tributes on Las Ramblas, Barcelona, where 13 people were killed in a terror attack on 17 August.

People stand around tributes on Las Ramblas, Barcelona, where 13 people were killed in a terror attack on 17 August. Photograph: Manu Fernandez/AP

However, despite pleas not to politicise the march, there were plenty of Catalan independence flags in evidence, though also a number of Spanish flags, a rare sight in Barcelona. There were also anti-government placards and many with the slogan “your wars, our dead” that called for an end to the arms trade.

Nevertheless, the atmosphere was one of warmth and solidarity and no tinc por (I am not afraid) was the only slogan chanted on the march. Many carried red, white and yellow roses, the colours of the Barcelona coat of arms – 70,000 of which were distributed by the city’s florists.

There were messages of support from mayors around the world, including London’s Sadiq Khan, Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris and New York mayor Bill de Blasio, among others.

As the march ended in Plaça de Catalunya at the top of Las Ramblas, a number of people booed the king and prime minister. Police officers had to close off the square because there was no room for more people, although thousands of marchers continued to arrive.

Spain’s political establishment united for the rally with (left to right): Barcelona mayor Ada Colau, Catalonian president Carles Puigdemont, King Felipe VI, Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy, and presidents of the Spanish parliament, Ana Pastor, and senate, Pio Garcia Escudero.

Spain’s political establishment united for the rally with (left to right): Barcelona mayor Ada Colau, Catalonian president Carles Puigdemont, King Felipe VI, Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy, and presidents of the Spanish parliament, Ana Pastor, and senate, Pio Garcia Escudero. Photograph: Andreu Dalmau/EPA

In a brief ceremony, the actress Rosa Maria Sardà read a poem by Federíco Lorca while the spokeswoman of the Islamic organisation Ibn Battuta, Míriam Hatibi, told the crowd: “We are not afraid because we know that love will triumph over hate.”

There was total silence when two cellist played El Cant dels Ocells (Birdsong), the traditional children’s song made famous by the cellist Pablo Casals who went into exile at the end of the Spanish civil war. The song has come to symbolise the dark years of repression under the Franco dictatorship.

Speaking at the end of the march, Colau said: “We talk a lot about diversity, but it’s not enough to talk about it, we have to make it a reality. An attack like this marks a city, the country and its people. But it’s one thing if it leaves a wound, another if what’s left is a scar.”

However, despite the display of unity, it seems only skin deep. On Friday Puigdemont said in an interview that the 1 October referendum will go ahead as planned and that to cancel or postpone it would be giving in to the terrorists.

Rajoy has said all along that the referendum will not take place although he has not made clear what measures would be taken to prevent it.

“We already have 6,000 ballot boxes,” Puigdemont said. “I don’t see what the state can do to stop us.”

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Spain attacks: King Felipe VI to join Barcelona anti-terror march | World news

Tens of thousands of people will march through Barcelona on Saturday to show their defiance against terrorism following last week’s deadly attacks.

The Spanish city is still mourning the 15 people killed on 17 August, when a van ploughed into crowds on the central boulevard of Las Ramblas, and a car mowed down pedestrians in the nearby seaside town of Cambrils.

Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, has called on Spaniards to turn out in force to show their “love” and solidarity with the region of Catalonia, where the attacks took place.

King Felipe VI will also attend the march, becoming the first Spanish sovereign to take part in a demonstration since the monarchy was re-established in 1975 after the death of dictator Francisco Franco.

Europe has been shaken by a series of deadly Islamist attacks, particularly the increasing number of low-tech attacks using knives or vehicles as weapons.

On Friday evening, a man was shot dead in central Brussels after stabbing a soldier while shouting “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest); later, a man with a large knife attacked police in London as they tried to arrest him outside Buckingham Palace.

Thousands attended a march in Cambrils on Friday night. The banner says #WeAreCambrils.

Thousands attended a march in Cambrils on Friday night. The banner says #WeAreCambrils. Photograph: Albert Gea/Reuters

Rajoy said the king would be attending the march to demonstrate “his love for the people of Barcelona, of Cambrils, of Catalonia”.

“There, with all of Catalan society and all of Spain … we will once again give a clear message of unity and condemnation of terrorism, and of love for the city of Barcelona,” he added.

The warm comments contrast with Rajoy’s earlier criticism of Catalan leaders, with whom he has been at loggerheads over their plans to hold an independence referendum on 1 October.

But in the aftermath of the attacks, which were claimed by the Islamic State group, he and Catalonia’s separatist president, Carles Puigdemont, made a show of unity and both will attend the march, which begins at 6pm (5pm BST).

On Friday evening, thousands of people marched against terror in Cambrils, shouting “no tinc por”, which means “not afraid” in Catalan – a phrase defiantly shouted by locals after last week’s attacks. The slogan of the Barcelona demonstration will also be “no tinc por”.

Those who tended to the victims last week will lead the procession. These include security forces, emergency workers, residents and shop owners in Las Ramblas and taxis who transported people for free.

Among them will be Montse Rovira, the city hall’s head of social emergencies, who helped people who were lost or who couldn’t find their loved ones. Rovira and her colleagues also gave psychological support to victims’ families and the emergency services.

“There are a lot of people who are suffering,” she said, admitting that even psychologists had struggled. The march would help “recognise the work of people who have been on the front line”, Rovira added.

Saray Gomez, an 18-year-old who works at a flower stall near where the van ended its deadly journey, said it was important “to give a message of unity and peace”.

“And it’s important to distinguish between Islam and jihadists, because Muslims are the first to be affected,” she said.

Thousands of red, yellow and white flowers – the colours of Barcelona – will be distributed to protesters.

The march will end at Plaza de Catalunya near Las Ramblas. where two cellists will play “Cant dels ocells” (Song of the birds), a traditional Catalan melody that has become a paean to peace. In 1961, the late composer Pau Casals played it at the White House in a symbolic rejection of the Franco regime.

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Spain terror attacks: Catalan interior ministry was warned about imam | World news

The Catalan interior ministry has confirmed that it was warned by Belgian authorities in March 2016 about Abdelbaki Es Satty, the imam who radicalised and organised the terror cell that killed 15 people in north-east Spain last week.

Hans Bonte, the mayor of the Flemish town of Vilvoorde, said local security forces had emailed an official in the Catalan police to express disquiet about Es Satty.

The confirmation came as new CCTV images emerged of three of the suspects involved, which appeared to show them laughing at a petrol station hours before they were shot dead by police.

Almost all of the dead men and suspects in the terror cell had been living in Ripoll, where Es Satty had been appointed as an imam two years ago, despite having served a prison sentence in Spain for drug smuggling. He spent the early months of last year in Vilvoorde.

“The imam of Diegem [another Belgian town near Vilvoorde] asked about the man who had moved to Vilvoorde,” Bonte told El País. “He said he acted strangely and told him he’d left Spain because he had no future there and had proclaimed himself imam, though he had no accreditation.”

Bonte said the Catalan official replied on the same day that Es Satty was “not known” to authorities in Catalonia and had no known links to radical Islam, although a person with the same surname had been investigated.

The Catalan interior ministry confirmed the Belgian communication but emphasised that it was “an informal contact” between two people who had met at international conferences.

“It wasn’t an official communication, which would arrive by other channels,” said a spokeswoman for the ministry.

Anti-terrorist sources told El País that the information had not been shared with either the Spanish interior ministry or with the Belgian federal police.

On Wednesday police said the terror cell had created a suicide vest packed with viable explosives and were in the process of making several more when a blast ripped through their bomb factory.

Abdelbaki Es Satty

Abdelbaki Es Satty. Almost all of the suspects in the terror cell had lived in Ripoll, where Es Satty was an imam. Photograph: SCREENGRAB

A search of the rubble at the factory in a disused house in Alcanar in southern Catalonia resulted in the discovery of the vest, which had gone unnoticed on Thursday last week when the blast was initially dismissed as an accidental gas explosion.

Police said on Thursday they had identified the remains of the last suspected member of the cell.

“Youssef Aallaa is the last corpse identified in the Alcanar explosion,” Catalan regional police said.

“That is the last known member of the cell” whose remains had not been formally identified, they said.

Es Satty is also believed to have died in the explosion.

Questions are being asked about the Catalan police’s response to the blast, with sources close to the judicial investigation in Madrid suggesting they may have missed an opportunity to uncover the plot before the terrorists struck later that day in Barcelona.

Quoting two sources close to the investigation in Madrid, Reuters news agency said the missed opportunity may have been a result of procedural errors and a lack of communication.

No immediate decision was made to call explosives experts to the scene of the blast, nor was information about it passed to the national police or civil guard headquarters in Madrid, according to the source.

The group had been planning much larger attacks, but the blast forced the suspects to turn instead to using vehicles as weapons.

According to the Catalan newspaper Ara, which published the CCTV images, the three suspects were regulars at the petrol station and visited four times on the day of the attacks on Barcelona and Cambrils.

Omar Hychami, Houssaine Abouyaaquob and Moussa Oukabir bought bread, eggs and lighters, and appeared to joke with each other just hours before they were shot dead by police along with two other suspects, after driving a car into pedestrians in Cambrils.

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Viable suicide vest found in rubble of Spain attackers’ bomb factory | World news

The terror cell that killed 15 people and injured more than 130 in north-east Spain last week had created a suicide vest packed with viable explosives and were in the process of making several more when a blast ripped through their bomb factory, police have said.

A search of the rubble at the factory in a disused house in Alcanar in southern Catalonia resulted in the discovery of the vest, which had gone unnoticed on Thursday last week when the blast was initially dismissed as an accidental gas explosion.

Questions are being asked about the Catalan police response to the blast, with sources close to the judicial investigation in Madrid suggesting they may have missed an opportunity to uncover the plot before the terrorists struck later that day in Barcelona.

Quoting two sources close to the investigation in Madrid, Reuters news agency said an opportunity to uncover the plot may have been missed as a result of procedural errors and a lack of communication.

No immediate decision was made to call explosives experts to the scene of the blast, and nor was information about it passed to the national police or Civil Guard headquarters in Madrid, according to the sources.

The Catalan police, the Mossos d’Esquadra, are a source of pride for many in the region, and some in Barcelona have been applauding officers in the streets since six members of the terror cell were shot dead. The head of the force, Josep Lluís Trapero, has said he believes it is unfair to make criticisms with the benefit of hindsight.

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the regional government and central government held separate meetings to determine responses to the crisis. Since then, however, they have sought to present a united front when issuing statements about the attacks and the official response.

Police have also established that the terror cell purchased about 500 litres of acetone, with which it planned to manufacture triacetone triperoxide (TATP), a highly volatile explosive that is sensitive to temperature change or impact.

The cell also bought 15 pillow cases, which police believe were going to be used to make further suicide vests, as well as detonators and nails that were to be used as shrapnel. About 120 32kg butane gas bottles have been recovered from the scene of the blast.

On Tuesday, the only survivor of the bomb factory blast, Mohamed Houli Chemlal, was brought before a judge in Madrid for a closed hearing. According to judicial sources inside the court, Houli told a judge that the cell had hoped to kill and injure large numbers of people with three bombs made of TATP and gas bottles.

Houli, 21, was brought to court in hospital-issue pyjamas, showing signs of injuries on his face, ankles and arm.

According to reports in Spanish media, he disclosed that the planned targets included the Sagrada Família, Antoni Gaudí’s much-loved, half-finished church in Barcelona.

The cell changed its plans after the premature detonation destroyed its bomb factory, killing two people including their alleged ringleader, Abdelbaki Es Satty.

A new plan was rapidly hatched, resulting in one cell member, Younes Abouyaaqoub, driving a hired Fiat van along Las Ramblas in Barcelona, killing 13 people and injuring more than 130. After stabbing to death a motorist during his escape, he went into hiding for 96 hours. He was shot dead by police on Monday after being spotted by a member of the public 30 miles west of Barcelona.

A few hours after the Las Ramblas attack, five other members of the cell were shot dead in the town of Cambrils, south of Barcelona, after driving their car into a group of pedestrians.

All six men were wearing fake suicide vests, which has led some observers to conclude that they wanted to be shot dead.

Almost all of the dead men and suspects had been living in the northern Catalan town of Ripoll, where Es Satty had been appointed as an imam two years ago, despite having served a prison sentence in Spain for drug smuggling.

On Tuesday evening, a judge in Madrid, Fernando Andreu, ordered that Houli and a second suspect, Driss Oukabir, 27, be held while police prepare charges. Andreu gave permission for a third suspect to be held for a further 72 hours, and told a fourth that he was being released without charge.

On Wednesday, French authorities disclosed that a number of the terror suspects drove to the Paris region a few days before the attacks in the same Audi car that was used in the Cambrils attack. French and Spanish police are attempting to establish the purpose of the visit.

Frédéric Molins, the Paris public prosecutor, said: “We are trying to determine the precise reason for this journey and if the terrorists were in contact with other people on our territory.”

The group, believed to be three or four men, stayed in a hotel. Molins said he would not give further information, but added that the French and Spanish authorities were cooperating closely.

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‘These boys were raised among us’: terror cell town reels after Catalonia attacks | World news

A dark, narrow staircase leads up to the seventh-floor flat in the small Catalan town of Ripoll from where Abdelbaki Es Satty allegedly masterminded the terrorist cell that struck in Barcelona last Thursday.

A bottle of the Moroccan imam’s scent sits on a sideboard, the miswak root he used to clean his teeth lies on a bedroom shelf, and his green Qur’an nestles behind the TV where he watched the daily news.

“He didn’t talk much,” said Es Satty’s flatmate, Nordin. “He seemed normal. His face and words were normal. I didn’t know what problems he had in his head.”

The last Nordin saw of Es Satty was on Tuesday morning, when the imam left home with a suitcase, saying he was going to visit his family in Tétouan in northern Morocco.

“He said goodbye and told me he would be back in time for the Lantern festival [on 1 September],” recalled Nordin, who said the imam drove off in a large white car. “I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary.”

Abdelbaki Es Satty’s Qur’an inside the flat used by the imam of Ripoll.

Abdelbaki Es Satty’s Qur’an inside the flat used by the imam of Ripoll. Photograph: Jonathan Watts for the Guardian

On Monday, however, Catalan police confirmed that Es Satty never went to Morocco. Instead, DNA of his remains have been found amid the debris of a bomb-making factory in Alcanar that exploded the day after he left home.

Spanish anti-terrorism investigators are now working on the assumption that the imam was the “catalyst” in the radicalisation a cell of a dozen mostly young Moroccan men in Ripoll, where he had been leading prayers and teaching Arabic for the past two years.

There were three sets of brothers among the alleged terrorists, many of whom went to the local Abat Oliba school and played football on the pitches next to the Ter river.

Ripoll is no Muslim ghetto, but a quiet, moderately prosperous town nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees. It is famous for its monastery, Santa Maria de Ripoll, which was founded in the 9th century by Count Wilfred the Hairy, an important figure among Catalan nationalists.

About 5% of the town’s 11,000 population are Muslim. Most are Moroccans who started arriving in the early 1990s to work at local factories.

Interviewed on Monday, Ripoll’s officials and residents expressed their shock that boys who were considered good students could have had their heads turned to the point that they were responsible for last week’s atrocities.

Unemployment has risen in recent years but local officials discounted it as a major factor in the radicalisation of the town’s terror cell, because most had jobs or were students. “We’re in shock. These boys were raised among us. There’s no ghetto here. They were our neighbours,” said Dolors Vilalta, the secretary of security in the municipal government.

“We had no inkling. If we had a hint we would have acted, but there was nothing,” she said. “Trust is broken. The feeling of security is gone. But we can’t give in to anger. That would be dangerous. We must move on.”

Relatives, friends and neighbours blame Es Satty. After he arrived in town, young Muslim men spent more time at the mosque.

One local Catalan man, who declined to give his name, said he used to play football with Younes Abouyaaqoub, confirmed by CCTV images released on Monday as the man who drove a van into crowds on Las Ramblas.

“He was a quiet guy who never seemed violent,” he said of the Moroccan, who grew up in the community.

Members of the Muslim community in Ripoll gather along with relatives of young men believed responsible for the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils to denounce terrorism and show their grief.

Members of the Muslim community in Ripoll gather along with relatives of young men believed responsible for the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils to denounce terrorism and show their grief. Photograph: Francisco Seco/AP

Younes’s brother Houssaine, who was shot by police in Cambrils early on Friday morning, worked at a local kebab shop and was said to be friendly to all his customers. “They must have been brainwashed,” said a schoolfriend. “Otherwise I can’t see how they would have done this.”

A 21-year-old Catalan woman – who like many others declined to give her name because everyone knows everyone in this small town – said she had known one of the terrorists, Mohamed Houli, since childhood.

“He was a good friend,” she said. “At school he never had any problems with anyone. He loved football and cycling. Everyone thought he was Catalan.”

Houli was found alive in the ruins of the bomb factory blast. He has been arrested and his testimony is thought to have been the key to the progress of the investigation.

Es Satty had been identified as a person of interest even before his DNA was confirmed at the bomb factory.

He was the only one of the 12 suspects with a criminal record. According to Spanish media reports he was convicted of marijuana smuggling and had spent time in Castellón prison in Valencia, where he is said to have met at least one of the perpetrators of Spain’s last major terrorist attack, the Madrid bombing of 11 March 2004. Local media say his name was also mentioned in reports about the recruitment of Spanish youths who went to Syria to fight for Islamic State.

Nordin says police came to search the home on Friday night. They climbed into the attic, looked inside the cistern and ripped off ceiling panels. The imam’s room is still as they left it – clothes pulled from drawers and dumped on the floor between a skewed mattress.

A police officer stands guard at a blocked road near Ripoll.

A police officer stands guard at a blocked road near Ripoll. Photograph: Pau Barrena/AFP/Getty Images

They also questioned Nordin, who moved into the flat’s other small room four months ago. The 45-year-old Moroccan market stall worker – who did not want to give his full identity because he fears repercussions for his family – told them the imam had never received a single visitor at the apartment. In June he had left for more than a month, saying he was visiting family in Morocco. He returned less than a week before the attack.

Nordin said Es Satty rarely read his Qur’an and would only pray in his own room or the mosque. “Islam had nothing to do with the killings here or in France,” he said, then tapped his head again. “The problem is here.”

At the town hall, the mayor, Jordi Munell, looked as if he had not slept for days. He said he was not just grappling with the security operation and the media attention, but the bigger question of how this happened. “We don’t understand. These boys weren’t marginalised. They were neighbours, teammates, supermarket workers, schoolfriends.”

The trigger, he guessed, was the arrival of the imam in 2015. Although he gave no indication of being a radical, Es Satty was withdrawn from wider society. The mayor believes he was quietly grooming local youths to become jihadists, not openly at the Islamic centre or the mosque but through personal connections among a group of friends and brothers.

“He was like the guru of a sect who captivated some weak-minded young men and the seduced them into horrific acts of indiscriminate barbarity,” Munell said.

The mayor is now trying to heal the wounds in his community.

“I hope people here can be emotionally intelligent enough to distinguish between the Daesh [Islamic State] jihadists and the Muslim community. The Islamic groups here want good relations and to play a part in society. Daesh wants to divide us and disrupt our lives. They don’t want us at the beach, at football stadiums, at Las Ramblas. We must fight them by continuing to go to those places and by continuing to play football with our Muslim friends. If we don’t Daesh is the winner.”

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Reflections on the Barcelona attacks | Letters | World news

We should always remember that the difference between liberal democracies and jihadi terrorists is that we embrace life and freedom, and theirs is a death cult intent on destroying freedom (Fighting terror means protecting freedom, 19 August). In the light of the dreadful attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, there are lessons to be learned from Spanish history. The golden age of Spain from the year 711, under moderate Muslim rulers, heralded an age of relative harmony between the different faiths of the country. Christians and Jews were granted “dhimmi” status, and allowed to practice their religion. By contrast, the radical Islamic Almohades, who assumed control of the country in the 12th century, persecuted other faiths. This pattern was repeated by the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, with the Spanish Inquisition of 1478. Societies will only thrive if the ruling faith makes place for people of other faiths, but unfortunately this simple notion is anathema to fundamentalist Islam.
Zaki Cooper
Trustee, Council of Christians and Jews

The psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott emphasised how we divide the world into “me” and “not me” from our earliest moments, whether through smell, age, class, gender, sexuality, religion, or politics. Multiple differences and beliefs jostle side by side in a successful liberal democracy, which reflects on past history. Those “believers” who tortured and killed non-believers in previous centuries are not seen as holy in this century, although as Afua Hirsch points out (Opinion, 22 August) we have not adequately rethought our slave-owning history.

The danger we are now witnessing is the process by which a small group of largely young people in transitional vulnerable periods of life, often refugees or children of refugees, come to feel they are without adequate identity and community. They are dangerously vulnerable to a pressure to fight to the death in order to die in company that they feel recognises them as having a higher purpose.

Thanks to Peter Kosminsky, who has always been willing to face the big issues with intelligence and passion. It is indeed sad that honourable people could be retraumatised by the (albeit censored) sights shown. But full sights of executions and floggings carry on globally out of western sight, though in plain sight online. Having a TV channel providing such intelligent and painful political drama as C4’s The State (Report, 22 August) is a hallmark of a successful democracy. The task of the reflective adult (of whatever belief or race) is to manage the tension between me and not-me.
Dr Valerie Sinason

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Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit

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Spain terror cell was planning Sagrada Família attack, suspect tells court | World news

The terror cell that brought carnage to north-eastern Spain, killing 15 people and injuring more than 130, was planning attacks on a much larger scale, including the bombing of Barcelona’s Sagrada Família church, a suspect has told a court.

Mohamed Houli Chemlal made the admission after being brought before a judge in Madrid, Spanish media reported, quoting court officials.

Houli, 21, confirmed what police said they had concluded last week: that the group had been planning large-scale bomb attacks before an explosion ripped through a house in Alcanar where a number of them had been staying, killing two of the plotters.

One of the proposed targets was the Sagrada Família, the half-finished church designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí that is one of Barcelona’s best loved buildings.

Houli arrived at the audiencia nacional in hospital-issue pyjamas, his right arm bandaged and his face bearing some of the injuries he is said to have sustained in the explosion last week.

He was the first of four suspects to be questioned by Judge Fernando Andreu..

A Spanish national from Melilla, one of the country’s north African enclaves, Houli was arrested in hospital after police realised that the house in Alcanar, in southern Catalonia, had been turned into a bomb factory.

The other three men who appeared in court were arrested in Ripoll, 145 miles north of Alcanar. They were Mohammed Aallaa, 27, whose blue Audi car was driven by five members of the group into a number of pedestrians in Cambrils, a coastal town south of Barcelona; Sahal el Karib, a Moroccan-born businessman in his 30s; and Driss Oukabir, 27, whose brother Moussa, 17, was one of five men shot dead after the Cambrils attack.

Last week Driss Oukabir told police that his brother had stolen his documents to hire vans used in the attacks. However, according to reports of his court appearance on Tuesday, he admitted to the judge that he had hired the vans but claimed he had believed they were needed for a house move.

All four suspects were represented by court-appointed lawyers. The judge later remanded Oukabir and Houli in custody charged with membership of a terrorist organisation and murder, ordered that Karib be held for a further 72 hours pending further questioning, and freed Aallaa.

As the hearing progressed, police were attempting to reconstruct the final 96 hours in the life of the member of the cell who killed 13 people and injured more than 130 others when he drove a hired Fiat van along the crowded Las Ramblas last Thursday.

CCTV images show Younes Abouyaaqoub clambering out of the white van after it crashed into a newspaper kiosk and walking slowly away through La Boqueria, the famous covered food market beside Las Ramblas.

He is now known to have escaped from the city in a car that he took from a vineyard worker, Pau Peréz. Abouyaaqoub approached Peréz in the Universitaria district in the north of the city, killed him by stabbing him in the chest, bundled his body into the back of the Ford Focus car and drove away.

Nothing more was seen of Abouyaaqoub until he was cornered on a road in the Subirats district, 30 miles west of Barcelona, on Monday afternoon. When police approached him he is said to have shouted “God is great” in Arabic and opened his shirt to show what appeared to be a suicide vest.

The officers immediately shot and killed him. He was the sixth member of the cell to be shot dead.

Police kept their distance and used a robot to examine the device Abouyaaqoub was wearing. Like the devices worn by the five men who were shot dead in Cambrils early on Friday, it was fake.

Abouyaaqoub appeared not to have washed between Thursday and Monday. Police believe he walked to Subirats by night and hid by day. He was carrying a knife wrapped in plastic when he died, but had no bag, no phone and no money. He had changed his clothes, however: police do not know where he did this.

In Morocco, a 34-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of being connected to the cell. He is understood to be a cousin of the Oukabir brothers, and previously lived in Ripoll.

Court officials told Spanish media that Houli also confirmed investigators’ suspicions that the cell had been radicalised and was organised by Abdelbaki Es Satty, an imam in Ripoll.

Es Satty, who was in his 40s, was one of two people who died in the bomb factory explosion in which Houli was injured. Houli told the court that Es Satty had intended to mount a suicide bomb attack.

A number of relatives of the dead terrorists have told how Es Satty attempted, without success, to make them become religiously more conservative. “He wanted to give me some talk and one day he started telling me that listening to music was bad,” one relative told El País newspaper. “I told him not to brainwash me. He never spoke to me again.”

In Ripoll, friends of Abouyaaqoub recalled him as a “calm, rather quiet, somewhat shy” young man, who had been a good student and who had studied, almost effortlessly, for a degree in electromechanics. He was said to have had two passions: cars and football.

Meanwhile, the French interior minister has confirmed reports that the Audi used by the terrorists in the attack in Cambrils had been caught on camera speeding in Paris.

Gérard Collomb said of the terrorists that “this group came to Paris but it was a quick arrival and departure”.

French media reported that the car went through the Paris region about a week before last week’s attacks and that it had also been spotted in the Essonne region south of the capital.

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Spain terror attacks death toll rises to 15 as main suspect hunted across Europe | World news

Catalan authorities have definitively linked the death of a man found stabbed in a car outside Barcelona to last week’s terrorist attacks, raising the death toll to 15, as a manhunt for the main suspect was extended across Europe.

The victim was identified as Pau Pérez, a Spaniard from Vilafranca del Penedès, 40 miles (64km) from Barcelona.

He was found fatally stabbed in a Ford Focus that had forced its way through a police checkpoint on Thursday, just after a van ploughed into crowds in Barcelona’s Las Ramblas boulevard, killing 13 people.

Police had fired at the car, injuring an officer, and initially thought the man they found in the car had been killed by the gunfire. An investigation revealed he had been stabbed.

Police believe Pérez was stabbed by Younes Abouyaaqoub, a 22-year-old Moroccan national who is alleged to have driven the van along Las Ramblas.

Abouyaaqoub fled the scene of the attack on foot and is thought to have killed Pérez to take his car and escape the city.

Police have set up 800 vehicle checkpoints and tripled the number of officers working on anti-terrorism operations after the attack, but Abouyaaqoub continues to evade them.

El País newspaper published images on Monday of a man it said was Abouyaaqoub apparently making a getaway on foot after the Barcelona van attack. The three photographs show a slim man in sunglasses walking through what El País says is La Boqueria market, just off Las Ramblas.

Describing Abouyaaqoub as about 5ft 11 (1.80 metres), police tweeted four photographs of the man with short black hair, including three pictures in which he was wearing a black and white striped T-shirt. He is “dangerous and could be armed,” police said,

Catalan police released these images of the suspect.

Catalan police released these images of the suspect. Photograph: Catalan police/EPA

Intelligence agencies had no warning of the 12-man jihadi cell that was originally planning a large-scale bomb attack before an accidental explosion at a house they were using in the town of Alcanar forced a change of plan.

Five were shot by a police officer during a second attack in Cambrils, where a Spanish woman was killed, and four have been detained.

Police said on Monday they had strong evidence that Abdelbaki Es Satty, the imam of the small town that was home to most of the attackers, was among the dead in the Alcanar explosion.

Es Satty, whom the police suspect of radicalising the young jihadis from Ripoll, was jailed in Castellón in Valencia in 2010 for smuggling cannabis. He was released in 2014.

It is reported that while in prison he met Rachid Aglif, who is serving 18 years for his part in the 2004 Madrid bomb attacks that left 192 people dead and about 2,000 wounded.

His name also appears in a report after five men were arrested south of Barcelona in Vilanova i la Geltrú on charges of recruiting men to fight in Iraq.

Spain terror cell

Spain is in three days of mourning for the victims of the attacks, which were claimed by Islamic State. Las Ramblas is filled with about a dozen ever-widening pavement tributes of candles, flowers and messages of sympathy and defiance.

In Seville, anti-Muslim slogans have appeared on a building belonging to a Muslim foundation. In a mass at Valencia Cathedral, Antonio Cañizares, the archbishop of Valencia, warned against “rifts between religions”.

“There is no greater blasphemy than the murder of innocents,” he said. “Islamist jihadism knows nothing but hate – hate for God and for his most beloved creatures, human beings.”

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

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