A police official in Spain says an imam whose home was searched as part of the investigation into two deadly vehicle attacks is believed to be the radicalizing force behind the cell of young men who committed the attack in Barcelona and prepared the other attack in Cambrils— and is now thought to have died in an explosion linked to the attacks.
The home of the imam, named as Abdelbaki Es Satty, was raided Friday night, with officers reportedly seeking – among other evidence – DNA samples which might link him to a building in the town of Alcanar believed to be where the attack was prepared, reported the Telegraph.
The police official spoke on condition of anonymity to reveal details of the new suspicions surrounding the imam. Officials in Es Satty’s former mosque in the northern town of Ripoll, which he left abruptly in June, on Saturday denounced the attacks in Barcelona and a nearby seaside town.
The mosque president, Ali Yassine, said Es Satty told him he wanted to return to Morocco for three months and hasn’t seen him since. The police official says Es Satty is believed to have died in an explosion Wednesday that destroyed a house south of Barcelona.
Suspects from the attacks are all from the town of Ripoli.
Six people have been arrested in Spain, Britain and Germany accused of links to the Islamist militant group Islamic State, and the indoctrination and radicalization of potential members, the Spanish interior ministry said on Wednesday, reported Reuters.
Since Spain raised the security alert to level 4, the second highest, in June 2015, Spanish police have arrested 178 people accused of links to Islamist militancy, according to Reuters.