Saturday 25 January 2020

Investigation into Barcelona terrorist attack shifts focus to brother of detained man

Moroccan Driss Oukabir, whose ID card may may have been taken by his brother Credit: AFP
Moroccan Driss Oukabir, whose ID card may may have been taken by his brother Credit: AFP

James Badcock

POLICE are investigating whether the younger brother of Driss Oukabir, the man of Moroccan origin whose photograph was widely circulated in the media after he was arrested following Thursday’s attack, could have been directly involved in the massacre.

A manhunt was underway for the driver of a van that mowed through crowds of tourists on Las Ramblas, Barcelona's most famous avenue, killing at least 13 people in an attack that was claimed by Islamic State.

Authorities said the death toll could rise, with more than 100 people injured, some seriously.

Police said they arrested two men, a Moroccan and a man from Spain's north African enclave of Melilla, though neither was the driver. Witnesses said the driver fled on foot.

Driss, 28, says that he believes that his younger brother Moussa Oukabir stole his ID card. Given that the 18-year-old bears considerable resemblance to his older brother, police are considering the possibility that Moussa Oukabir may have used Driss's ID to hire a van.

Moussa lives in Barcelona, whereas Driss resides in the town of Ripoll, around 65 miles north of the Catalan capital.

​Spanish media are reporting that two years ago Moussa made a statement of apparent violent intent against non-Muslims on social media.​ It is claimed that in a jokey exchange with other users on the network Kiwi, when asked what he would do on his first day as absolute ruler of the world, Moussa answered: “Kill all infidels and only allow Muslims to continue the religion”.

In another reply, he said the country he would never live in would be “the Vatican”.

The mayor of Ripoll, Jordi Munell, has told Catalonia’s TV3 channel that Driss Oukabir was arrested when he was on his way to the police station in Ripoll to report that his ID card had been stolen.

The newspaper El Periódico cites sources from Ripoll’s town hall as saying that Driss Oukabir blamed his brother for stealing his ID, which was found on the scene of the attack.

Sources from Catalonia’s government have told the Telegraph that Driss Oukabir spent one month in custody in Figueres prison as a suspect of sexual abuse, before being released in 2012.

El País newspaper has had access to a recording of communication between Barcelona police at the time of the attack. The officer reporting the attack describes the suspected driver of being around 1.70 metres (five feet, seven inches) tall and wearing a white shirt with blue stripes.

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