I just want to briefly run through the latest news on Thursday/Friday’s two terrorist incidents in Spain, the vehicle attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils. The combined death toll from the three incidents, not counting dead terrorists, now stands at 14, after a woman injured in the Cambrils attack died. The fifth attacker in that latter incident has also died (the other four were already dead). At least 130 people were injured in both attacks with 17 of them in critical condition.
Spanish police are looking for the younger brother of Driss Oukabir, Moussa, a man they already have in custody and believe was responsible for renting the van used in the Barcelona attack. Driss Oukabir is claiming that his ID was stolen, possibly by his brother, though that could obviously be bullshit. Police are also still looking for the driver of the van, who reportedly escaped the scene of the attack on foot. Moussa Oukabir may have been the van driver but it doesn’t sound like authorities are ready to definitively say that yet. Moussa Oukabir and/or the Barcelona driver may also have been one (two?) of the five attackers killed in Cambrils on Friday morning, but there’s no evidence of that as yet.
A timeline of the attackers’ activities seems to be taking shape, as the BBC lays out here. It starts on Wednesday with an explosion at a house in the town of Alcanar, southwest of Barcelona. That blast was originally attributed to a gas leak, but further investigation of the scene has revealed that the house was likely being used as a bomb-making facility and the explosion was, well, a natural outcome of that sort of activity. Authorities now believe that the attackers’ original plan was to rent a large truck, pack it with explosives, and blow it up somewhere. They were unable to rent the truck and so they switched to plan B, which was to rent 2-3 vans, pack those with explosives, and blow them up somewhere. Then their bomb factory blew up, and so they switched to plan C, a couple of simple vehicular attacks. The attackers in Cambrils were thought to have been wearing explosive vests but that turns out not to have been the case. After they drove into a crowd of people they exited the vehicle carrying knives but were quickly gunned down by police.
The sophistication and number of moving parts to this attack, or at least to plan A anyway, suggests that ISIS’s claim of responsibility isn’t just an after-the-fact claim. These attackers may well have been genuine ISIS operatives, as opposed to sympathizers/followers who decided to do something for the cause.
As with yesterday’s post I’ll try to keep this one updated as I hear more information.
UPDATE 1: the AP reports that a Spanish court has issued orders for four suspects in the two incidents to be arrested; unclear if these are four other people, if one of them is Moussa Oukabir, and/or if any of them could be among the attackers who have already been killed
UPDATE 2: Moussa Oukabir was, as it turns out, one of the five attackers killed by police in Cambrils; still no word on whether he’s been identified as the Barcelona van driver