The CNI wanted to install Es-Satty as an imam in Barcelona controlled from Madrid but the local secret service chief refused
Article translated by MILFORD EDGE @milfordedge (barbaryfigs)
Having prevented Es-Satty’s deportation from Spain, the secret service clashed with its local chief in Barcelona who refused to have Es-Satty working as an imam and embedded informant in the Catalan capital but directly controlled from CNI HQ in Madrid. They finally decided to install him in the Girona area, whose lower-ranking area head agreed to relinquish control.
In the previous installment of this exclusive series of articles, we explained how a judge revoked the deportation of Abdelbaki es-Satty, the imam of Ripoll, head of the jihadist cell which perpetrated the massacre on the Ramblas in Barcelona on 17 August, 2017. The judge was persuaded to allow Es-Satty to stay in the country by a current contract and certificates presented on his behalf accrediting his supposed work history in Spain. Once this had been achieved, the next thing to be arranged by the National Intelligence Centre (CNI) – who had recruited Es-Satty as an informant in early 2014, just before he completed his sentence for drug trafficking – was to get him a preaching post which he could use as a base to infiltrate European Islamist terrorist networks.
According to the intelligence sources that Público has been able to consult during this year-long investigation (and whose anonymity it is obliged to protect) the Spanish secret service first tried to place Es-Satty in charge of a mosque in Barcelona, but met with resistance from the then CNI chief in the area who objected to the imam being controlled directly from Madrid, a very risky arrangement in a big city that is home to a complex network of Islamist groups and the hub of Mediterranean Europe’s jihadist network.
This was why the CNI head in Barcelona flatly refused to accept the operation unless he was allowed control it personally, and to avoid conflict with a high-ranking command at “The Home“, the National Intelligence Directorate (DNI) sought another house of prayer at which to install Es-Satty, in the hope that he would infiltrate European Salafist networks by exploiting his existing jihadist contacts from inside and outside prison. During the search for a job for the imam, a vacancy arose in a mosque in Ripoll and this time the CNI delegate in the Girona area, much lower in rank than the Barcelona chief, agreed to cede control to the Spanish secret service’s national command.
One of the secret service’s most prominent Musllim informants in Girona endorsed Es-Satty to the Islamic community of Ripoll
One of the secret service’s most prominent Muslim informants in Girona (whose identity is known to this newspaper’s protected sources but cannot be published without compromising them) endorsed Es-Satty to the Islamic community of Ripoll. To ensure that he was hired, there could be no trace of his long history of proven links with jihadist groups, so they removed his records from police files in case the local Islamic community requested a background check. This is the reason why the Catalan police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra, were unable to access the files when they searched the databases the following year.
Proof that the CNI informant in Girona was fully aware of the secret operation lay on the Ramblas murderer, Younes Abouyaaqoub, who was shot dead in Penedès by the Mossos who feared that the clearly visible suicide vest he wore over his clothes was primed. It turned out to be empty. All of the explosive TATP (triacetone trioxide, also known as “Mother of Satan”) which the terrorists had manufactured exploded in the villa in Alcanar where the imam of Ripoll died. The Catalan police found a mobile phone on Younes’s dead body and the person who made the most calls to that number during the Ramblas murderer’s long flight on foot through the Garraf massif was the none other than the same Girona informant who had recommended Es-Satty to the Muslim community of Ripoll.
Infiltrator in jihadist mosques in Belgium
After obtaining the position of imam in one Ripoll mosque which was forced to close due to financial problems, Es-Satty went on to preach in another in the same town. He was very active internationally, taking full advantage of his jihadist contacts to set up in Belgium for a short time, as can be seen in the confidential CNI report entitled LINKS TO MEMBERS OF THE TERRORIST CELL OUTSIDE SPAIN, whose first section – ABDELBAKI ES-SATTY’S CONTACTS IN BELGIUM – can be seen at the beginning of the article.
Between January and April, 2016, Abdelbaky es-Satty spent time in Belgium to obtain work as an imam in a mosque called Youssef, located in the city of Diegem, north-east of Brussels.
The president of this mosque, Souliman Aquichouh (Akaychouch), and user of telephone numbers 322XXXXXXXX and 324XXXXXXXX, had asked the Belgian authorities for official recognition of the mosque. The request was denied, and Es-Satty was not able to formally act as imam.
During his stay and association with the Youssef mosque in Belgium, Es-Satty asked the president to allow him to teach religion to children, which was not possible because the mosque was only attended by adults.
Abdelbaky es-Satty has connections to several members of the Aquichouch family, of Moroccan origin and radical ideology, who hold positions of responsibility in several mosques located in the northeast of Brussels, all of them promoting an extremist doctrine.
Next, the CNI report gives an exhaustive list of the Aquichouh and many other Salafist leaders in the Youssef de Diegem mosques – Ennasr de Vilvoorde, Islah de Zaventem … – with their telephone numbers, emails and Facebook IDs. That Es-Satty “is connected” to the core of European jihadism could not be clearer – and the quoted verb is in the present because this report was written long after the attacks, with Es-Satty long dead, but seems to have been copied from text written when he was still alive, and active:
Es-Satty’s plane flights were reserved by Belgian jihadists
In contrast, at the end of the report (which can be seen in this last image) the past tense is employed – “used” and “made” describe specific acts executed on specific dates:
Other members of that mosque with links to the Aquichouh family:
Mohamed Aquichouh (20.06.1976), who books two flights for Es-Satty:
- 01.31.2016 Antwerp-Barcelona.
- 03.02.2016 Barcelona-Antwerp.
For the booking telephone number 324XXXXXXXX and the address [email protected] were used. Mohamed uses the telephone numbers 324XXXXXXXX and 324XXXXXXXX.
Hayat Aquichouh, married to Abdelkarim Aaissi (07.19.1967). He made the flight reservation for Es-Satty: 13.04.2016 Brussels-Barcelona, using the telephone 324XXXXXXXX.
What is clear is that, at the beginning of 2016, when Es-Satty was working as an imam in Ripoll and preaching the incendiary Salafist doctrine that radicalised his young disciples, he was also in close contact with Europe’s most extreme jihadists. At no time did the Spanish secret service warn the Mossos d’Esquadra of this.
In response to an information request from a Belgian colleague, a sergeant in the Mossos was unable to find anything about Es-Satty’s jihadist background in the police database
And it cannot be argued that the Spanish secret services discovered all this information from the Belgian security forces at a later date because in January 2016 a local police inspector from Vilvordee emailed a police sergeant in the Mossos d’Esquadra – whom he had personally met at a conference on Salafism – to ask for information about Es-Satty, but the Catalan sergeant could not find anything about his jihadist leanings in the police database, despite his long police and judicial record of extreme Islamist activity.
Why were the Mossos d’Esquadra kept in the dark about a clear and imminent terrorist threat in Catalonia?
And we say imminent because various Internet searches for potential targets appear in the history of a ZTE phone found in Alcanar which shows that the Camp Nou was going to be attacked among other targets. There were also numerous searches for targets registered on an LG phone found in the van abandoned by Mohamed Hychami after he had an accident on the motorway only hours before the attacks.
The question is obvious: if the CNI had a tap on these phones, how could they have missed these Internet searches for potential targets and how they clearly pointed to an imminent terrorist attack? The SITEL program used by the CNI to tap phones can have problems identifying visits to web pages with SSL security, but searches in Google, Bing or any other search engine of this type have no initial added security and are therefore perfectly legible for the software.
There are simply too many questions surrounding the attacks in Catalonia. They should be answered in honour and respect for the victims of the jihadist terrorism that so shocked Barcelona and Cambrils.
MILFORD EDGE @milfordedge
Original source: Público @publico_es
Author: CARLOS ENRIQUE BAYO @tableroglobal
Publication date: 18 July 2019