It has been four years since that tragic attack in Catalonia on 17th August, 2017, in which acts of terror, claimed by a cell of Islamic State left behind a river of pain that resulted in the deaths of sixteen victims as well as eight terrorists. The cities of Barcelona, Cambrils, Ripoll and Alcanar, but more generally, the whole of Catalonia, remember that day in August with a permanently engraved emotion and pain in which the first shock and the immediate indignation that a terrorist attack always entails were followed by an exemplary citizen response from a mature population in solidarity with the victims. Also remaining from that day is pride in a Catalan police force that in record time was able to eliminate a murderous terrorist commando that had enough operational capacity to continue its deadly actions.
In a way, Catalonia, a land of peace and hospitality, has been unable to turn the page since that attack. There are several reasons: first, because it left its mark on a generation that, despite the permanent warnings that placed Barcelona at the centre of Islamic terrorism, did not believe it would ever happen. Secondly, because no one would have ever imagined that in a town like Ripoll - of about 10,000 people - such a deadly terrorist cell commanded by an imam based in the municipality, Abdelbaki es Satty, could have been created in such a short time.
But if there is one thing that has occupied pages and pages of news reports in recent years beyond the preparation of the attack, its execution, the victims, the dead terrorists and the Mossos d'Esquadra, it is undoubtedly the role played by the imam Es Satty as a confidant of the Spanish police, the permanent refusal of the political parties of the Spanish regime to create a commission of inquiry on the matter in the Congress of Deputies and, finally, the opposition of the National Audience court to analyzing whether there was negligence, bad faith or even something more substantial in the actions of the state security forces.
The trial at the National Audience found the three men accused to be guilty of terrorist organization and possession of explosives and sentenced them to between 8 and 53 years in prison, but acquitted them of the murders. The Association of Victims of Terrorism announced last May its intention to appeal the sentence and request a retrial. The fact is that the unwarranted political obstacles for an episode in which there were so many fatalities, the insurmountable judicial hurdles and the sentence awarded did not convince everyone and fueled the idea that much more could have been done to allow the whole truth to come out. And it was not possible.