Spanish police arrest man over Barcelona attacks

Spanish police have arrested a Moroccan man suspected of cooperating with a cell that carried out the attacks that killed 16 people in Barcelona and a nearby seaside resort last month, Spain's interior minister said Friday.

Spanish police arrest man over Barcelona attacks

The man, who lives in Spain, was detained in the eastern town of Castellon, Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said in a Twitter message.

La @guardiacivil detiene en Castellón a un marroquí residente en España por colaborar con la célula de los atentados de Barcelona y Cambrils

— Juan Ignacio Zoido (@zoidoJI) September 22, 2017


The 24-year-old man, who was detained in the eastern town of Castellon, was close to several members of the group, especially Abdelbaki Es Satty, a Moroccan imam believed to have radicalised the youths that carried out the attacks, it said in a statement.

He is believed to have helped the cell obtain the ingredients they used to make over 100 kilos (220 pounds) of the explosive TATP and provided them with vehicles to transport it.

“Various members of the cell counted on the help of the suspect, who at the very least, provided his personal identification documents which they used to buy hydrogen peroxide, a key ingredient to make TATP,” it said.   

“In addition, he provided the terrorists with methods of transportation used to move part of the explosives.”   

TATP has become the explosive of choice for the Islamic State (IS) group as it can easily be made from ingredients such as acetone and oxygenated water that are readily available in high street stores.

Investigators found 15 kilos of the explosive — dubbed the “mother of Satan” — in a flat near Brussels after suicide attacks in the Belgian capital in March 2016.

It was also used in the November 2015 attacks on Paris, and in a bombing that targeted concertgoers in Manchester in May.    

In last month's attack, jihadists killed 16 people using vehicles and knives in a two-pronged attack in Barcelona and the seaside resort of Cambrils, with the bloodshed claimed by IS.

The main suspects were of Moroccan origin, although most had lived in Spain for several years.

Police shot dead six of the suspected members of the cell that carried out the attacks and arrested another four.    

Two other suspects — including Es Satty — died in an explosion at a house used by the plotters at Alcanar, southwest of Barcelona, on August 16 on the eve of the Barcelona attack.

Police believe the explosion at the house prompted the surviving members of the cell to bring forward their attack plans, resulting in the vehicle rampages in Barcelona and Cambrils.

READ MORE: Barcelona's Sagrada Familia evacuated in 'false alarm' terror scare


Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?

Around 10,000 people demonstrated against the expansion of the El Prat airport in Barcelona on Sunday.

Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?
People march during a demonstration against the expansion of the Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo: Pau BARRENA / AFP

Several ecological and agricultural organisations, have demanded that the expansion be stopped due to the fact nearby wetlands and farms would have to be destroyed.

The demonstration took place on Calle Tarragona in the Catalan capital between Plaça d’Espanya and Plaça dels Països Catalans.

The protests still took place, even though last week, Spain suspended the €1.7 billion airport expansion project, citing differences with the Catalan government, after president Pere Aragonès said he wanted to avoid destroying La Ricarda lagoon, a natural reserve next to the airport. 

Environmentalists decided not to call off the march, in case plans for the airport expansion still went ahead.

READ ALSO: Six things you need to know about Barcelona airport’s €1.7 billion planned expansion

Political representatives from ERC, En Comú Podem and the CUP also attended, as well as the leader of Más País, Íñigo Errejón; the Deputy Mayor for Ecology of the Barcelona City Council, Janet Sanz, and the Mayor of El Prat de Llobregat, Lluís Mijoler.

People from neighbourhoods across the city marched towards Calle Tarragona and could be seen holding placards that read Nature yes, airport no and shouting slogans such as “More courgettes and fewer planes” and “Fighting for the climate, health, and life”. 

One of the largest groups of people were those from El Prat de Llobregat, the municipality which is home to the airport, who were led by tractors. 

People march during a demonstration against the expansion of Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP

In addition to protesting against the expansion of the El Prat airport, people were also demonstrating against the Winter Olympic Games in the Pyrenees and extensions to airports in Mallorca and Madrid. 

A representative of Zeroport, Sara Mingorría said “We are here to defend not only La Ricarda, but the entire Delta”. 

The philosopher Marina Garcés also argued that the expansion of the airport would mean “more borders, more mass tourism, more control and more precarious jobs.” 

The leader of the commons in the Catalan parliament, Jéssica Albiach, who also attended the protest, asked the PSOE for “coherence”: “You cannot be passing a law against climate change and, at the same time, defend the interests of Aena [the airport operations company]”, she said. 

She also urged the leader of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, to “definitely say no. 

If the airport expansion in Barcelona goes ahead, environmentalists say that CO2 emissions would rise by a minimum of 33 percent. These levels would surpass the limits set by the Catalan government’s climate targets.