Ripoll (Spain) (AFP) – In a little Spanish town by the Pyrenees mountains, a Moroccan imam has come under intense scrutiny, accused of creating the terror cell that allegedly launched the twin attacks in Spain.
Those who knew him described Abdelbaki Es Satty as a discreet and religious man, who had recently asked for a holiday from the mosque he was preaching in, apparently to return to Morocco for personal business.
But police believe he may have been among those blown up in an accidential explosion Wednesday in the house where the suspected attackers were believed to be building bombs.
The blast likely changed the plans of the attackers, who instead used vehicles to smash into pedestrians on Barcelona’s busy Las Ramblas boulevard and in the seaside resort town of Cambrils.
“On Tuesday morning, he left saying he was going on vacation to Morocco,” said fruit-seller Nordeen El Haji, 45, who four months ago moved into the apartment that Satty occupied in Ripoll.
The decrepit two-room flat rented for 150 euros a month has a view of the tree-covered Pyrenees and the red roofs of the quaint Catalonian town, 90 kilometres (50 miles) north of Barcelona.
– ‘No internet, few books’ –
“He spoke little, spent time with his computer in his room, and had an old mobile phone with no internet, and few books,” said Satty’s flatmate.