At Least 4 Arrested In Connection With Spain Attacks
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
President Trump is using the terrorist attacks in Spain to take a swipe at his political opponents. The president sent a tweet this morning, writing, quote, "the obstructionist Democrats make security for our country very difficult." He went on to write that radical Islamic terrorism must be stopped by whatever means necessary.
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
And let's go now to Spain, where terrorists used vehicles to mount attacks in Barcelona and in another coastal town. The first attack happened yesterday when a van rammed into crowds at a popular tourist destination. At least 13 people were killed in Barcelona and more than a hundred were injured, and authorities are still looking for the driver.
Then a second attack in the resort town of Cambrils early this morning. A car drove into crowds. One person was killed there. Five men in the car were shot dead by police. We reached Marquel Artabe (ph), a local restaurant worker who described the mood today.
MARQUEL ARTABE: (Through interpreter) The truth is everyone is really sad. This is a city where there are never problems. This is the first time anything like this has happened. And the people here are traumatized because if it happened once, it could happen again.
CHANG: Joining us now via Skype is Fiona Govan. She's an editor at the English-language newspaper The Local Spain, and she is in Barcelona right now. Thank you very much for being with us.
FIONA GOVAN: Hello.
CHANG: So police are still looking for at least one of the attackers, the driver in the Barcelona attack. What information do they have about who he might be?
GOVAN: Well, in fact, the latest that we've had in a press conference is that they haven't ruled out that the driver may, in fact, have been killed in the car in the second attack in the beach resort last night at 2 o'clock in the morning. But they have said that they are still looking for one particular man, a man called Musa Oukabir who is the younger brother of someone who's already in custody. He's aged around 18 years old and has a - is being sought for direct involvement, if not being the driver then one of the key planners of this incident in Barcelona and down in Cambrils.
CHANG: Does he have any criminal history? Has he had any interaction with law enforcement in Spain before?
GOVAN: Apparently not. Apparently none of those people that they've so far identified have got a previous record with the police and certainly weren't on any kind of watch list and any sort of jihadist watch list. But they do sort of fit the bill. This is what the police chief was saying, you know, that they're young men that - they're radicalized or they appear to be radicalized.
And certainly the man that they're - one of the men, Musa, who they're looking for has been picked up online commenting that he would want to kill all of the infidels if he was - woke up one day as king of the world. So certainly there were - there were some red flags, although as far as we know he was not being - he was not on a watch list.
CHANG: OK, so there was an attack in Barcelona and then this other attack in another seaside town about 75 miles away. And before that, there was an explosion at a house in a third town. Do we know how much all three of these events are connected?
GOVAN: Well, this is exactly what we're finding out today. I mean, when the house exploded on Wednesday night, there were - there was very little mention of it. It seemed to be some sort of domestic accident, possibly with a gas bottle. What police are now saying is that they believe that this terrorist cell were in that house plotting a big attack - using explosives on the streets of Barcelona, that their making of the bomb went wrong and it blew up the house.
And then in a panic of being discovered, they then had to move very quickly and came up with this plan to drive down - to drive a van down the - down Las Ramblas. So although we're looking at an attack that was absolutely shocking and that 13 people died in, the impression that we've got from the police today is that in fact, something much bigger and more well-planned between different group - between different people in the same group was their main aim.
CHANG: And it sounded like police responded really quickly to the attack in Cambrils. Is there a heavy police presence all over the country's northeastern coast right now?
GOVAN: There is a heavy police presence everywhere. But we've had - there was one single policeman who was armed who is responsible for shooting four of those terrorists in that van. And he's obviously suffering probably quite a lot of shock for having done that. But he is being hailed as an absolute hero for stepping in within seconds and stopping what could have been much worse.
CHANG: All right, that's Fiona Govan joining us from Barcelona. Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.