THE RINGLEADER of the Spain terror attacks had links to one of the 2004 Madrid bombers.
Officials have said while the men responsible for the twin attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils were not on the security services’ radar, the apparent ringleader Abdelbaki es Satty did have extremist connections.
He went to prison five years ago for trafficking hashish from Morocco to Spain, and was locked up alongside Rachid Aglif, jailed for his role in the Madrid attacks.
At least 191 people were killed and thousands were injured when an al Qaeda-linked terror cell detonated bombs on commuter trains during the morning rush hour, making it the worst terror attack in Spain’s history.
Es Satty and several of his fellow plotters had travelled between Spain and Morocco in recent months, as they worked on their attack plans.
Spanish officials are facing increasingly uncomfortable questions about why those involved were not on the radar of the intelligence services.
Police say their efforts to track down the fugitive terror suspects are being frustrated by their inability to identify human remains found at the site of an explosion at the plotters’ bomb factory, south of Barcelona.
Police here had initially believed the blast was a non-suspicious gas explosion.
For days, forensic teams have been sifting through the remains of the property in Alcanar.
The premature explosion here on Wednesday should have triggered a vital early warning that a massive attack was imminent, but initially, the clues here were missed.
The authorities only realised it was part of the terror plot when evidence recovered after the Barcelona attack linked back to the address in Alcanar.
Investigators have discovered the remains of three people in the rubble but have not yet been able to identify them.
And that is complicating their ongoing terrorist manhunt, as they are still not exactly sure who is on the run.
They do believe the man suspected of driving the van through Barcelona’s Las Ramblas pedestrian boulevard is still alive and at large.