The truth about the imam of Ripoll – Part 2. Público
The CNI listened in on the mobile phone conversations of the Ramblas murderers only five days before the massacre
Article translated by MILFORD EDGE @milfordedge (barbaryfigs)
Público today provides definitive proof that the Spanish secret services were closely monitoring the Ramblas and Cambrils murderers on the eve of the attacks: not only were the phones of the Ripoll imam’s young disciples tapped, but the conversations that they had among themselves, but without their leader, Es Satty, were also being listened in on.
Definitive evidence revealing just how closely the CNI was monitoring the disciples of the jihadist imam of Ripoll less than a week before they committed the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils is revealed by one of the confidential reports provided by the National Intelligence Centre itself to the large team of investigators from three police forces and the Public Prosecutor’s Office in their attempt to piece together the events leading up to the attacks. In fact, evidence incriminating the CNI lies in a drafting error on the part of the secret services which reveals that, on the eve of the Ramblas massacre, Spanish spies were eavesdropping on and recording all the conversations the would-be assassins were having: via their mobile phones.
This report recounts the trip made to Paris by Omar Hichamy – the 21-year-old younger brother of Mohamed Hichamy discussed in Part I – and Younes Abouyaaqoub, the perpetrator of the 13 hit-and-run murders on the Ramblas. As is clear in the above extract from the supersecret CNI report, to which Público has had access in its entirety, that trip took place “between 11 and 12.08.2017”. That is, it ended only four days before the leader of the cell, Abdelbaki es Satty, was blown to pieces while working in the terrorists’ bomb factory in Alcanar, the explosion which prompted the improvised attack on Barcelona’s most famous street the following day.
The minute-by-minute account given in the CNI report on Omar and Younes’s adventures during their lightning trip to Paris shows that the Spanish secret services were watching their every move very closely indeed:
The assassins’ final trip to Paris, minute-by-minute
“… both left Spain via the Bielsa-Aragnouet tunnel [on the A-138 on the France-Spain border] on 11.08.2017 at 11.36 p.m. They used the Audi A3 [mentioned in yesterday’s article].”
“On 11.08.2017 they arrived in Paris at 8.22 p.m. and stayed at the B&B Malakoff in the neighbourhood of the same name on the outskirts of the French capital.”
In addition, intelligence analysts had tapped both the young terrorists’ mobile phones, enabling them to itemise the calls and Internet searches made from the phones, devices which the CNI never actually had in their physical possession. They were found by the Mossos (who killed six of the terrorists) then registered as evidence at the courthouse:
“The agents not only geolocated the mobiles of these twenty-somethings with no police records, but …
“Omar Hichamy did an Internet search the same day for the Hibiscus Hotel (66, Rue de Malte, 75011 Paris), where they eventually did not stay. A similar search has not been detected for the B&B Malakoff.”
“Two communications made by Mohamed Hichamy indicate that he knew the itinerary, making one call when Youness and Omar are in the hotel and then another the following day before crossing the Franco-Spanish border. In addition, he waits for them to return the next day in order to hold a meeting.”
Phone-tapping must always be authorised by a judge – though in the case of the CNI, carte blanche is given by the Supreme Court magistrate specially assigned to deal with secret service requests – and this type of communications surveillance is normally limited to the geolocation of relevant devices, and keeping a record of call traffic and the frequency of Internet access from terminals, a form of surveillance known in Spanish intelligence jargon as an “itemised phone bill”. The account given in the CNI report up to this point seemed to fulfil the wiretap criteria, though it is very unusual for Spanish intelligence services to be following the every move of a few 20-year-olds with no criminal records.
However, in the following paragraph the CNI agents who wrote the report make a hugely revealing slip-up [at the beginning of the following capture the end of the previous page is included to provide the reader with context]:
“The conversations are held between the numbers associated with Omar and Youness (34600314111 and 34612526378), but are in fact, on both occasions, between Mohamed Hichamy and Younes Abouyaaqoub, who expresses himself economically so as not to reveal details of specific activities“
“… analysts also listened in on and transcribed all the conversations between the youngsters
In other words, the Spanish intelligence network did not confine itself to compiling “itemised phone bills”, but was actually busy listening in on and transcribing all the conversations between the Muslim youngsters – supposedly as yet unconnected to any jihadist plot. The CNI was conducting the most exhaustive of intelligence monitoring possible, requiring extensive material and human resources.
In addition, the head of the cell, Es Satty, did not take part in these conversations, so the wiretaps could not have come from a full hack of his phone, but from taps on the phones of his novice followers. There is only one conceivable explanation for this: that the imam himself, acting as a secret service informant, had reported the activities of the so-called “Ripoll Commando” to his handlers in the CNI, and for this reason they decided to tap all of their phones and listen carefully to their calls.
The very close surveillance under which the Spanish intelligence services placed the jihadist cell – still not identified as such in the anti-terrorist police files a mere five days before the massacre – is glaringly obvious in the detailed account of the Paris trip detailed in the confidential report by the National Intelligence Centre (CNI):
“They went to FNAC and bought a Canon camera, for €129”
“Day 12.08.2017: Abouyaaqoub and Hichamy paid the hotel bill in cash and travelled in the vehicle to Haussman-St. Lazare station in the centre of Paris, where they parked the car. They went to FNAC and bought a Canon camera, for €129.”
“They were only parked for 21 minutes (entry at 10.41 a.m. – departure at 11.02 a.m.), which could indicate prior knowledge of the area and that they knew what they were going to buy.”
“At 11.02 a.m., the Audi A3 vehicle left the car park, and Younes and Omar were later detected in the Eiffel Tower area.”
“After this visit they went to a bar-tabac between the areas of La Defense and Courbevoie and acquired two SIM cards to browse the internet: “33753620618. They give the false ID, Rachid Ezzouzi. Activated this same day at 3.19 p.m. in France, near the border with Spain.”
“33751214021. They provide the false ID, Hassan Lahmani. Activated on 15.08.2017in France, near the border with Spain.”
It was not until noon on 18 August, 2017, the day after the Ramblas massacre, that Es Satty’s file was deleted from the CNI’s main database of informants.
In short, the CNI meticulously followed the terrorists, step-by-step and minute-by-minute, until at least a few days before they committed the bloody attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils. And that could only be because Es Satty was a secret service informant and had passed on his disciples’ data to his handler as part of his role, but most likely without revealing his own plans. As a senior police official admitted to this newspaper, “with high-level informants, you never know if they are working for you or you are working for them.”
But, in addition to all of the above, Público is fully aware – without being able to provide more information because it must protect the confidentiality of its sources – that it was not until the morning of 18 August, 2017 (the day after the massacre on the Ramblas) that Es Satty’s file was permanently deleted from the CNI database of informants, something that can only be done from CNI headquarters in Madrid.
This newspaper has also managed to reconstruct Es Satty’s entire career as an informant, from how and when he was captured and what jihadist plots he revealed to when he was found a job in Ripoll.
… TO BE CONTINUED
Original source: Público @publico_es
Author: CARLOS ENRIQUE BAYO @tableroglobal
Publication date: 16 July 2019
EXCLUSIVA | El CNI escuchaba los móviles de los asesinos de Las Ramblas cinco días antes de la matanza
— Público (@publico_es) July 16, 2019
The CNI eavesdropped on the Ramblas murderers' phone conversations only 5 days before the massacre
Translation "El CNI escuchaba los móviles de los asesinos de Las Ramblas 5 días antes de la matanza" Carlos Enrique Bayo @tableroglobal @publico_es (16 July)https://t.co/wLWCpkCSdG
— barbaryfigs (@milfordedge) July 17, 2019