Said Aallaa and Mohamed Hychami were identified as two of the four suspects being sought in relation to an Islamic State-inspired terrorist attack in Barcelona, Spain, a police handout declared.
Police say that Aallaa and Hychami, along with Moussa Oukabirt and Younes Abouyaaqqub, each played a role in a van-ramming attack left 13 people dead and over 100 injured.
Aallaa, 18, is of Moroccan descent and resided in Ribes de Freser, a municipality in Girona, Catalonia, Spain, police said in a handout. In 2005, it had a reported population of 2,044 people.
Hychami is 24-years old and also of Moroccan descent. Authorities say he lived in Ripoll, Spain, the capital of Ripolles. It’s located near the Ter River near the French border. It had a population of 11,057 in 2009.
The Barcelona attack, which occurred August 17 in the afternoon on La Rambla, killed 14 people and injured about 100 more.
According to senior police official Josep Lluis Trapero, the van, which police think was driven by Oukabir, sped on the pavement and swerved to hit pedestrians in the crowded are in what he called a “terror attack intended to kill as many people as possible.”
A second van that was believed to have been used as a getaway vehicle for Oukabir was located abandoned in Vic, about 50 miles away.
Hours later, five terrorists were killed after launching in an attack in Cambrils.
According to Spanish media, the terrorists may have been part of the “Cell of Tarragona,” a terrorist cell that’s thought to have ties with returnees from Syria and Iraq, Cadenaser reported. The State Security Forces and Bodies said they are aware of a “very organized cell” that consists of 12 or more people.
Here’s what you need to know about the incident and suspects:
1. Police Say a White Van Driven by Oukabir Rammed Into Multiple People on the Popular Barcelona Street
According to El Pais, after the van rammed into the people, the road was cordoned off and the downtown settlements were evacuated.
Police sources told the news outlet that a suspect, believed to be Oukabirt, used the white van to run down several people and fled from the scene on foot. He reportedly “zigzagged” as he headed toward a group of people as they were trying to cross the street at a traffic light, rendering many of them immobile on the street.
The van appeared “jumped the sidewalk” and crashed into the summer crowd of residents, The Associated Press reported.
The attack caused mass chaos on the street, and at least three stampedes of people fleeing for cover were seen.
The U.S. Department of State said one American died in the attack while another suffered a minor wound.
2. Five Terrorists Were Shot Dead After an Attack in Cambrils
Hours after the Barcelona attack, five terrorists were shot dead by a police officer in Cambrils after a vehicle was driven into pedestrians in similar fashion as Barcelona.
One woman was killed and six bystanders and one officer were wounded in the attack. Three of the suspects wore explosive belts that proved to be fake, police said.
Police chief Josep Lluis Trapero said during a press conference that it was one officer who shot all but one of the terrorists dead after he arrived on scene and noticed a colleague injured on the ground.
Trapero said the attackers emerged from a car with knives, machetes and axes and the unidentified officer raised his rifle, shooting four of them dead.
The suspects in the Cabrils attack linked to those in the Barcelona attack, and police say they were planning for a “bigger atrocity.”
Police believe that one of those killed in the attack is be Oukabir.
3. A House Explosion 1 Day Earlier Appears to be Connected to the Terror Attack
Police said that they are investigating a link between the attack and a series of explosions at a home in Alcanar, Catalonia one day earlier.
According to La Vanguardia, one person died and 16 others were injured after the explosions. An unidentified number of police officers and firefighters who were investigating the initial explosion were also injured when the second blast occurred. Human remains were reportedly found scattered in the rubble, and locals said the house was “inhabited by two brothers of Magreb origin.”
It was initially reported that the incident was brought on by “gas explosions” stemming from butane gas, La Vanguardia reported, however police have since said they believe the residents of the home were manufacturing bombs to be loaded into a van.
4. Oukabir’s Brother Claimed His Identity Was Stolen by Moussa
Police reportedly recovered a passport from the van appearing to show Detenido “Driss” Oukabir, a citizen who resides in Melilla, a Spanish city located on the north coast of Africa that shares its border with Morocco.
Police identified Driss as one of the suspects, however, a report by La Vanguardia said that a man identifying as Driss traveled to the police station after he saw his identity being spread by police. The report says that he claimed his documentation had been stolen and he had nothing to do with the terrorist attack.
The news outlet cited Mayor Jordi Munell, who said Oukabir is a “well-known person” in the community. The man told authorities that he suspected his younger brother, 18-year-old Moussa Oukabir, may have stolen his documentation and be the person involved in the attack.
Oukabir is originally from Agbala, Morocco and is said to have rented the van in Santa Perpetua, about 40 minutes north of Barcelona. His motivation in the attack isn’t yet known, but he once shared a neo-Nazi video that alleged a global Jewish conspiracy on his Facebook account.
Learn more about Oukabir by clicking here.
5. ISIS Has Claimed Responsibility for the Attack
Hours after the initial attack took place, the Islamic State took responsibility, saying the perpetrators of attack are “Islamic State soldiers and carried out the operation in response to appeals targeting coalition countries.”
Using a vehicle to run down people has become the staple attack of ISIS.
In an ISIS magazine article from November 2016, ISIS suggested to jihadists how to carry out a successful attack as a lone wolf operative. In the article, ISIS said that a lone wolf should use a vehicle to plow into a crowd and to carry a secondary weapon.
After the attack, ISIS channels showed people celebrating the news.
The Barcelona attack comes 10 days after ISIS called for increased “truck attacks.”
There have been multiple vehicle ramming incidents across Europe in recent years, killing over 100 people in Nice, Berlin, London and Stockholm.
In recent weeks, Barcelona has been investigating several incidents regarding anti-tourism graffiti being vandalizing neighborhoods and slashing tires of bicycles and a tour bus.
Spain was last placed on terror alert in 2015 and hadn’t suffered any Islamist-related terrorist attacks since a bombing on March 11, 2004 that left 192 dead and over 2,000 wounded.