On 6th June this year, the Mossos d'Esquadra, the Catalan police, asked a judge to urge Cofidis, Moneyman and Dinerorapid to provide a variety of information relating to details found from mobiles belonging to the terrorist behind last year's attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils. During the investigation, it had been established that some of those under investigation had applied for loans from these companies. The details come from court documents El Nacional has been able to see.
Specifically, analysis of Mohamed Hychami's mobile revealed calls and messages to get a loan. The first contact was on 4th July 2017 with Cofidis. No conversation took place, the call lasted one second. On 8th July there were three more calls, the first of which lasted 5 minutes. The other two came from another mobile phone. One lasted one second and the second, immediately after, almost two minutes.
For the Mossos, working with the hypothesis that the attack was intended to happen three days after it actually did, these contacts are key: "These communications turn out to be especially important, since the date on which Mohamed Hychami got in touch with this company is very close to 20th August 2017, the date it seems the terrorists had planned to commit the attacks".
"Taking into account that the financial company Cofidis offers very quick loans, everything seems to indicate that Mohamed Hychami's wish was to get money on credit (clearly, to not be returned) with the aim of acquiring the precursor substances for the manufacturing of the explosives, as has been established they did during these dates", investigators continue.
This plan imitates the modus operandi of the terrorists behind the Paris attacks which Amedy Coulibaly took out 6,000€ of credit to fund. In that case, the money was used both to acquire various weapons and to pay for the ticket from Madrid to Istanbul for Coulibaly's partner, Hayat Boumedienne, to join Islamic State's ranks in Syria.
Mossos say it's also a method used by "foreign fighters" to acquire funding to travel to conflict zones, money they will never return.
According to the investigation, one of the Oukabir brothers applied for a loan from Cofidis the same day as Youness Abouyaaqoub and Mohamed Hychami, 4th July. Hicham Abouyaqoub and Rachid Oukabi, relatives of members of the group, also applied for loans.
Translation: On 14/06/2017 at 15:07, they receive an SMS from Dinerorapid: "Your loan has been pre-approved. Please, select LINK with your button now. To reject it, write STOP."
They communicated with the loan companies using a Nokia and a fake name, Nelu Daniel. According to investigators "this could be a tactic to prevent or make more difficult a later search by police forces, as well as tricking and scamming the microcredit firm".