The mayor of the Catalan town which was home to the jihadi terrorist group responsible for the 2017 attacks has spoken out forcefully as the trial of three men alleged to be involved with the group progresses. "Every time I see another document, I am in less doubt... Satty was the imam of the CNI and we were fooled by the Spanish state's security bodies," said Jordi Munell, mayor of Ripoll.
Munell was referring to the Centro Nacional de Inteligencia, Spain's secret service, which admitted its contacts with the Ripoll imam Abbelbaki Es-Satty, who radicalised the young local men who formed the terror group. The full details of those contacts remain secret, despite the trial, but the local mayor's comment today was in response to the courtroom exhibit of a document approving the imam's request for international asylum in 2014 after being imprisoned for drug offences in the Valencian town of Castelló.
The Spanish interior ministry document asserts that Es-Satty was "well-established" in the country, saying that this integration was important in order to cancel deportation in such cases. And it states the "explicit non-opposition from the Spanish administration" to the man's request for asylum.
Meanwhile, as the trial continues, a protected witness today stated that one of the three men accused, Driss Oukabir, made repeated visits to the house in the Catalan locality of Alcanar where the Ripoll cell made explosives. In this Wednesday's court session, the witness recalled seeing him "every day" during part of the summer of 2017. Without specifying exact dates, he said that Oukibir was in Alcanar in July and early August, approximately. Driss Oukabir drove a black Audi A3 with a French license plate, according to the witness, who stated that he "did nothing in particular". "He would arrive and close himself inside the house. At night he would sleep on the terrace of the house," he said.
The witness explained that several times he cross paths with and greeted the defendant, including seeing him sleeping on the terrace as he walked to the beach in the morning, and also in the afternoons. He recalls that Driss Oukabir was “often” accompanied by another person. The witness, who testified in French, said the Audi A3 was in front of the house "every day" and that it was visible from his residence.
There was also a motorcycle, a Peugeot 306 and a rented van that he saw at the house. He remembers seeing the van on the last day of his stay at Alcanar, but was not able to specify what day it was. The witness explained that he saw a van unloading at the house, but that the occupants of the house parked it in a way that made it impossible to see what they were transporting.
The witness explained that the driver of the Audi A3 was the only person in the house who did not avoid contact with the residents of the Alcanar housing area. He saw the rest of them, but "they didn't talk to anyone." The witness showed himself sure that he had recognized the person at the house.