The mastermind behind the massacre on the Ramblas was a CNI informant until the day of the attack
Article translated by MILFORD EDGE @milfordedge (barbaryfigs)
After a year-long investigation, Público has gathered enough information – from intelligence sources, confidential documents and data from the investigations into the terrorist attacks committed in Barcelona and Cambrils by the jihadist cell headed by Abdelbaki es Satty – to be able to state with some certainty that the Ripoll imam was still considered to be an informant by the Spanish secret services on the day two years ago that his disciple, Younes Abouyaaqoub, murdered 13 people.
It was Bin Laden who invented the foolproof communication system known as the “dead letterbox” which has now been adopted by the intelligence services as a way of contacting undercover informants. This method of communication, which cannot be intercepted because no data is actually sent, is the same as that used by Spain’s National Intelligence Centre (CNI) to communicate with its most secret informant: the imam of Ripoll, Abdelbaki Es Satty, the leader of the terrorists who committed the massacre on Las Ramblas in Barcelona two years ago.
Moreover, Público has been able to verify that the “dead drop” (as spies also call it) was active up until at least two months before the Ramblas attack in which 13 people were killed, including 3-year-old Javi Martínez, and more than a hundred were injured – and has gained access to the screenshots of the secret Gmail account: [email protected].
Handwritten passwords found in the rubble in Alcanar
The handwritten security keys for this “dead letterbox” were written on a piece of paper found in the rubble of the abandoned villa in Alcanar (in Tarragona, near the border with Castellón), where the terrorists stored a large quantity of explosives and were blown to pieces on 16 August, 2017, dismembering Es Satty himself and one of his accomplices: Youssef Aalla.
On that piece of paper, next to the address of the secret mailbox, was what appeared to be a password: PEREJUAN18, as it was possible to verify when the investigators – having requested permission from the relevant court – accessed the email account and extracted the following information:
As suspected, there were two unsent drafts. This is how the dead letterbox system works: a new email account is set up on any public platform – Gmail, Hotmail, etc – but never used to send or receive messages; those who know the user and password keys are restricted to writing drafts and leaving them there unsent. Your correspondent then accesses the account and can see what is written, responding by the same method.
As no data is transmitted over the network, messages are impossible to intercept, since no sign of activity is recorded on the Internet. They are only available to those who know in advance that the user – always identified with a plain name – is of interest, and who also have the password chosen by the person who created the account, a key that is not even registered by the administrator of the mail server.
Not only that, but you can also add a second layer of protection with two-step verification, which sends a single-use code to the predetermined phone which has to be entered at every log-in. So, even if someone managed to steal the password, they would not be able to access the account unless they had also obtained the corresponding mobile phone.
Police investigators verified that [email protected] was an email account with no associated personal data, whose last password modification was on 14 March, 2017, and that it bore all the hallmarks of a “dead letterbox”, such as those used in the world of espionage and also discussed in several al Qaeda terrorist manuals available on the Internet:
The two drafts from Es Satty’s “dead letterbox”
On May 24, 2017, someone wrote in perfect Spanish:
I SEE THAT YOU HAVE BEEN ABLE TO ENTER, ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS WRITE A MESSAGE LIKE THIS AND LEAVE IT AS A DRAFT AND I’LL READ IT. NOW YOU CAN START WRITING THINGS. THANK YOU, FRIEND
At a later date, on 19 Jun, 2017, the same person wrote:
DON’T YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO WRITE TO ME OR IS IT BECAUSE YOU CAN’T? TODAY IS MONDAY, 19 JUNE
The researchers who discovered these messages are in no doubt that Es Satty’s CNI handler had created the email account to communicate with him – a place where the imam of Ripoll could leave any information he obtained. In the 24 May email, the handler points out how Es Satty has already entered the email account, gives him a kind of welcome, and tells him that whatever he wants to tell him, he should leave in the “drafts” folder. Then, on 19 June, the handler, in the absence of information from his informant, asks him if he has not written anything because he could not or because he had nothing to tell him.
Most importantly this last email, from 19 June, is less than two months before the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, when the jihadist cell from Ripoll had already begun preparing terrorist attacks, both identifying targets and acquiring the bomb-making materials to be used.
Younes and Aalla spent “months” making bombs
In fact, during the questioning of Mohamed Houli Chemlal, the only survivor of the huge explosion in Alcanar, and reported in the case file to which Público has also had access, it is stated that Younes Abouyaaqoub, the Ramblas murderer – and Aalla spent “months” making explosives there (pages 188 and 189):
2.- Mohamed HICHAMY, together with Younes ABOUYAAQOUB and Youseef AALLA manufactured explosives. According to the statement by Mohamed HOULI CHEMLAL, most notably they made pipe bombs into which Mohamed HICHAMY inserted small boxes of screws as shrapnel.
3.- Mohamed HICHAMY had a box full of metal pieces of different sizes with sharp-edged geometric shapes to use as shrapnel inside the vans, as proven by the entry, search and seizure effected at his address (INDEX A-10)
This newspaper has also had access to the confidential reports provided to the team of investigators of the attacks by the CNI, which detail the trips that those same terrorists had made six months earlier.
The CNI was aware of the terrorists’ plans on their trips
Hichamy and Aalla’s trip to Switzerland and Germany (Basel, Freiburg im Breisgau and Zurich) 18-20 December, 2016; as well as that of Abouyaaqoub, Aalla and Hichamy to France and Belgium (Paris and Brussels) 25-28 of the same month, this time in the same Audi A-3 (registration 9676BHF) that would later be used in the Cambrils attack:
As you can see in this last image, the CNI agents closely followed all the movements of the three young men who manufactured the explosive devices in Alcanar across four countries, not only monitoring their itineraries and means of transport, but even with previous knowledge of their plans:
The aim of this trip was for Mohamed Hichamy to buy a second-hand Subaru Impreza in Freiburg, something that ultimately did not happen.
It is obvious that the CNI knew what the terrorists intended, but failed to do because they were listening to what they were saying to each other, also able to indicate the numbers of the three mobile phones and point out:
“After failing to buy the car, they were forced to look for an alternative means of transport for the return journey. For this reason, Mohamed Hichamy contacted Younes Abouyaaqoub and asked him to book the return flight (Zurich-Barcelona on 20.12.2016).”
How is it possible that the Spanish secret services were aware of all these details, including the conversations between the terrorists about their projects and objectives, but not put an end to the preparation of the attacks, especially considering that they also knew about their constant drives back and forth between Ripoll, where Es Satty gave inflammatory Islamist sermons in the mosque, and Alcanar, where they manufactured the explosives and built the bombs:
They use the Audi A3 used in the Cambrils attack and frequently by members of the cell for their trips between Ripoll and Alcanar.
“For this journey they used the same vehicle as they did for the Cambrils attack (Audi A3 registration 9676BHF) whose registered owner was Mohamed Aalla, but which was often used by other members of the cell for their trips between Ripoll and Alcanar.”
Furthermore, Público is aware that the Spanish secret service continued to monitor the terrorists until the day of the Ramblas bombing, and it was not until the morning after the massacre that Es Satty’s file was deleted from the CNI’s main list of sources.
… TO BE CONTINUED
Article translated by MILFORD EDGE @milfordedge (barbaryfigs)
Original source: Público @publico_es
Author: CARLOS ENRIQUE BAYO @tableroglobal
Publication date: 15 July 2019