Driss Oukabir, a 28-year-old Moroccan-born man, was accused of being one of the main suspects connected to the ISIS-claimed car ramming attack in Barcelona that left at least 13 people dead and up to 100 injured on the streets of a popular tourist promenade.
However, the suspect’s identification quickly became clouded in confusion on a horrific and chaotic day that was punctuated by another, likely related attack in the resort town of Cambrils. Moussa Oukabir, an 18-year-old Moroccan man who is Driss’ younger brother, and who appears to have written about infidels and Aleppo on social media, was then accused by Spanish police of being the driver of the van that rammed into the Barcelona pedestrians.
Other accused terrorists were named as Said Aallaa, Mohamed Hychami, and Younes Abouyaaqoub. It’s now believed that Moussa was killed in Cambrils by police and only Younes is at large.
Reports that Moussa Oukabir might be the driver came from Spanish language sites like, El Pais, who attributed them to police. The driver fled on foot after the horrific attack that left bloodied streets and fatally wounded victims from multiple countries. The accounts that Moussa was driving are not definitively confirmed.
Driss Oukabir, after seeing his photos and name in the news media, showed up at an Italian police station and claimed it’s a case of stolen identity, La VanGuardia reports. El Nacional, a local Spanish publication, also reported that Oukabir had come into a local police precinct to say his identity was taken, and he’s not the terrorist. This was, as of yet, unconfirmed by government authorities, who had released Oukabir’s photo to the news media in the first place. Seguridad y Defensa, a site that publishes security and defense news, has alleged that one of the suspects may instead be a brother of Oukabir, Moussa Oukabir, who allegedly once posted on social media, “Kill the infidels and just leave Muslims.”
A report in the Guardian, though, alleges that Driss Oukabir was arrested after he went to police about stolen identity, although the publication says he was not the van’s driver. It was, altogether, a tough few hours in Spain and for authorities, and there is still much that is not clear, including the exact role that authorities accuse Driss of playing in the attack, if any.
El Pais reported of the identity confusion: “Investigators believe that it could be (Driss’) brother who stole the documentation and who may be the one who is really involved in the deaths of the city. Driss’s brother is called Moussa Oukabir, he lives in Barcelona and is 18 years old.” This was not formally announced, though, as confusion continued to emerge over the suspect identities.
According to Fox News, police have not yet clarified whether they released the name of the right suspect. The latest injury and death estimates from Spanish government officials are as follows: 13 dead; 15 critically injured; 23 “less seriously” injured; and 42 minor injuries. Then, as Spain was reeling from the attack in Barcelona, came word of the possible second attack in Cambrils.
Graphic photos and videos from the scene of the August 17 attack showed bloodied victims lying on the sidewalk in a scene that has become all-too familiar over the past year in European cities and in the American state of Virginia. You can see some of them later in this post, although be aware they are very disturbing. Bruno Gulotta, an Italian father of two, was the first victim named. An American was also among the dead.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Driss Oukabir’s Facebook Page Shared Disturbing Anti-Israel Posts, Including a Video With Nazi Imagery
A Facebook page that appeared to be that of Driss Oukabir gave his name as Driss Oukabir Soprano and said he lives in Ripoli and is from Marseilles, France; the page shared anti-Semitic posts, including a video with blatant Nazi imagery, a post about Muslim reaction to Christianity, and Moroccan music videos. The brother’s page has posts about Muslims and Aleppo. Spanish and French reporters identified the page as that of Driss Oukabir, although police have not confirmed this. The pages of both Moussa and Driss were deleted after people began filling them with angry invective.
The page that was in the name of Driss Oukabir on Facebook contained a video that spoke of a global Jewish conspiracy to take over the world that contains overt Nazi imagery. The page also posted hip hop videos and posts on Moroccan politics. Catalan Minister of Foreign Affairs Raul Romeva told CNN that authorities were still investigating the motive for the terror attack, but Spanish officials later blamed jihadists. Driss is 28-years-old, according to El Pais, based on government and police reports.
But who is actually the suspect? That’s still unclear.
The Facebook page of the man named by police had raised concerns because of anti-Semitic posts. There was another post, as well, that appeared to target Israel.
The page also shared other religious materials, although many of the posts shared music videos. However, this video was also shared; in English, its caption reads, “A calling Muslim can not respond to a Christian.”
There were also photo posts on the page that bear symbols, including this one of the Berber flag:
And, the following, which appears to be a hip hop group:
The suspect’s brother had posts on a Facebook page attributed to him that reference Aleppo and Muslims. He also posted a lot about fast cars.
The page also shared a post referring to Aleppo as genocide.
Moussa, the brother, is 18 and lives in Barcelona. His Facebook page said he works for Coca-Cola. Police have not officially confirmed that he has any involvement in the attack whatsoever.
The van drove into a crowd on a sidewalk in Las Ramblas, a promenade in Barcelona, Spain that is popular with tourists, on August 17. The horrific scene was all-too familiar in Europe, which has dealt with a series of car ramming attacks, such as the one on Westminster Bridge near UK Parliament. A car ramming attack also killed an American counter protester at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in the U.S.; that suspect, James Alex Fields, is an accused white supremacist with an alleged idolatry for Hitler.
El Pais writes, “[Las Ramblas] is now cordoned off and the downtown settlements have been evacuated… Police sources have explained that it is a white van that ran down several people, and after the driver fled on foot.” The driver ran over people while they were attempting to cross the street during a traffic light.
There were initial reports of two dead, but that climbed in British media to at least 13 deaths with many more injured.
The below video emerged that appeared to show police taking a man into custody, but it was not yet clear who that man was or whether he bore any connection to the terrorist attack.
European media reports indicated that the suspect, Driss Oukabir, was from Marseilles and was previously known to authorities. El Pais reported, “Driss Oukabir was booked by the police and spent some time in Figueres jail, from where he had left in 2012. According to police sources he resided in Ripoll and had rented the van from the atropello in Santa Perpètua.”
2. Driss Oukabir Claims That His Identity Documents Were Stolen
Driss Oukabir’s identity was initially released by the Civil Guard in Spain. The translated version of an El Pais article reads, “The van used in the attack was rented by Driss Oukabir, in the town of Santa Perpetua de la Mogada, according to the identification made by the Civil Guard.”
It was first reported that there were two suspects at the scene. Complicating matters even more, police now say there are two suspects detained in the Barcelona incident (it’s not completely clear whether one is Driss Oukabir at this point), neither of whom drove the car. The third, the driver, reportedly fled on foot, police in Spain said. They are still sorting out all of the identities.
Spanish police now say that five other terrorists may be dead in a possible second attack in Cambrils. In that incident, the terrorists are accused of trying to ram into another crowd and may have been wearing explosive vests. Police killed them at the scene. The video below purportedly captures the scene of the terrorists’ bodies on the ground in the resort town near Barcelona.
After the carnage on the street, there were quickly reports that gunmen, possibly the same terrorists, were holed up in Luna d’Istanbul, a Turkish restaurant in Barcelona. It was feared they had hostages, but authorities now tell CNN that was never the case.
TeleCinco, a Spanish language site, reported of Oukabir, “This individual would be one of those found inside a restaurant near La Boqueria. According to his profile in social networks, this young man is called Driss Oukabir, although at the moment his nationality is unknown. With him would be another person, who was also inside the van during the attack, but at the moment its identity is not known.” However, El Pais reported later that the suspect is of Maghreb origin, which means a person of North African origin. Again, though, Oukabir claims his name and identity were stolen to perpetrate the attack.
According to La VanGuardia, “An individual who has identified himself as Driss Oukabir Soprano has come this afternoon to the police station of the Mossos d’Esquadra in the town of Ripoll (Girona), where he resides, and has reported the theft of his documentation. Before, the police forces had spread the image of this person as alleged perpetrator of the terrorist attack occurred in the Rambla of Barcelona. Therefore, the broadcast image would not correspond with the actual author.”
The site continued, “The man who has appeared as Driss Oukabir has explained to the agents that when he saw his photograph in the media he went to the police station and explained there that his document had been stolen, as well as clarified that at the time of the attack (he) was in Ripoll. The mayor adds that Driss Oukabir is a well-known person in the locality.”
El Nacional, the Spanish paper, reported the same information. Driss Oukabir “appeared in the commissary of the Mossos de Ripoll to deny that he has any involvement with the attack of this afternoon in Barcelona and to assure that they robbed him the documentation with which the terrorists would have rented the van that they have used For the attack, as El Nacional has learned,” the translation of the article read.
“Local sources confirmed by the city, Jordi Munell, have ensured that the young man, who resides in Ripoll, would have come to deny any involvement in the facts and to explain that he was in Ripoll at the time of the events.”
The site continued, “For the moment, the police are continuing negotiations with the two authors of the attack, who have dug themselves inside a Turkish restaurant near the place where they left the van after the attack.” It was later reported that the suspect had been arrested.
The initial reports had been of hostages. The “gunmen ran into a nearby restaurant to hold diners hostage,” reported UK Daily Mail. According to The Sun, another British news outlet, “Police have reportedly surrounded the Luna d’Istanbul eaterie near the Boqueria food market in a bustling district of the Catalan capital.”
The Spanish language El Pais also reported that police were “looking for a white Ford Focus with a license plate finished in FNY that has jumped a police control and that has run over three agents. According to police sources, the vehicle has fled by the B-23 in the direction of the A-2. Some agents say that there has been a shootout.”
3. A Spanish Passport Was Found at the Scene & the Suspect Was of Maghreb Origin, Reports Said
Spanish media reports said that a passport indicating that one of the suspects was a Spanish national was found at the scene. El Pais reported, “The suspect is a Moroccan citizen, born in the town of Aghbala, and legal resident in Spain.”
El Pais reported that the suspect may have recently visited Madrid, and authorities are investigating his contacts. “Oukabir was born on January 13, 1989 in the Moroccan town of Aghbala. He is the son of Said and Fatima, according to his police file,” reported El Pais.
The Spanish royal family tweeted a defiant response to the attack. “They [the attackers] are assassins, simply criminals who are not going to terrorize us,” the family posted on Twitter. “All of Spain is Barcelona. Las Ramblas will return to be everyone’s.”
4. Extremely Disturbing Graphic Videos Emerged of the Terrorist Attack’s Aftermath
The images were horrible. An elderly couple with shopping bags lying together on the ground. Crumpled bodies with their legs twisted in odd directions. Blood-spattered sidewalks. As we have seen in other terrorist attacks, cell phone video quickly spread on social media.
Be aware that the graphic videos are troubling to watch. They show people’s bodies lying on bloodied sidewalks as they are tended to by others. They do, however, present an unforgettably troubling picture of the attack’s consequences.
According to The Sun newspaper, police are treating the incident as a terror attack, and confirmed that a “massive crash” had occurred in Barcelona.
5. ISIS Channels Were Celebrating the Attack
ISIS’ official news agency has now claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack.
There were reports of ISIS channels celebrating the attack, although Oukabir’s background was only beginning to be excavated. Reports on social media described and showed panic in the streets as news of the attack spread. There was a massive police response.
You can see more photos and videos from the scene of the Barcelona terrorist attack here. Be forewarned that those photos and videos are also graphic and show victims’ bodies in some cases.