The head of the Anti-terror Unit of Spain's Civil Guard, lieutenant colonel Francisco Vázquez, has admitted mistakes leading to the failure to detect the cell which carried out the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils on 17th August last year. In comments on Catalan public broadcaster TV3, Vázquez admitted errors in the system and also in the terrorists being able to buy explosives.
The officer also said the imam of Ripoll, Abdelbaki es Satty, who has been identified as the cell's leader, hadn't been identified as a threat by any intelligence or police force at the time of the attack. That said, he admitted Es Satty did appear in Civil Guard records for following-up to find out if he was being radicalised. He'd been visited by the Civil Guard and the CNI, Spain's intelligence agency, in prison for that very reason.
Vázquez accepted that the most serious mistake was that it didn't "call the attention of those who have to monitor this kind of behaviour that this was happening". He said that that very day, a meeting to evaluate the terror threat discounted the possibility of an imminent attack, given the absence of any information suggesting as such.
The roll of the Mossos d'Esquadra
Vázquez also commented positively on the collaboration between the different police forces that were involved in the attacks. The lieutenant colonel also remarked on the good work done by the Mossos d'Esquadra, the Catalan police, during the hours and days after the attack. He also noted they cannot be blamed any more than the Civil Guard, the Spanish police or the CNI.