Suspects’ community speaks out against extremism

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A handful of worshippers prayed quietly on the red carpet of the An Nour Mosque in Ripoll. 

Off to one side in the offices, well-meaning elders of the institution that serves a mostly Moroccan congregation grappled with the notion that their last imam is suspected of being at the centre of the latest terror attacks in Spain.

Worse still, some young men whom they knew – who were occasional visitors to prayers – had been killers, and been killed.

“It’s been a big shock… it hurt us a lot what happened in Barcelona.

“It was a blow – a big, big blow for us, for the Spanish people and the world, and for Muslims as well because this doesn’t happen,” said Ali Yassine, president of the mosque.

He said that Abdelbaki es Satty, the former imam, had stopped attending the place of worship “a couple of months ago”.

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A vigil was held by the local community in Ripoll

Spanish police suspect the preacher’s remains are in the rubble of a house in Alcanar which blew up in a bomb-making accident on Wednesday.

:: Imam’s home raided as police hunt terror mastermind

Had es Satty displayed any radical views in sermons or other teachings?

“No. He was very normal. We would have stopped him if he had been. But what happens outside the mosque – we have no control over that and we don’t know,” said Mr Yassine.

Five of the town’s youths were shot dead by police after ramming pedestrians and killing one in a car and then emerging brandishing machetes and knives.

The anxious president appeared near to tears of despair.

“We don’t know how they were radicalised. Someone brainwashed them,” he said.

Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22, is being hunted across Europe.

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Police are hunting Younes Abouyaaqoub over the Barcelona van attack

He is suspected of driving the van into people in Barcelona, killing 13.

He was also from Ripoll.

His cousin, Fatima, said that she had not heard from him nor had any other member of the family for “more than a month”.

:: Twin terror attacks in Spain: The victims

She joined a vigil attended by the relatives of the dead terrorists outside the town hall which condemned the attacks, held a minute’s silence while the town hall clock chimed six, and wept.

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Cousin of van suspect said that she had not heard from Younes for more than a month

“It seems like a bad dream. Sometimes I wonder, I wake up – it can’t have happened,” said Fatima.

But it did.

And now the Muslim citizens of Ripoll, which has a population of just under 12,000, face not only the horror of a terror attack on their country, but also an unnerving suspicion that fellow Spaniards may assume they are “guilty” by association.

And that is an unjust stain that the murderous extremists they knew, would never have wanted erased.



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