*(FROM THE RELIGION OF PEACE) – Imam suspected of organizing Spain attacks avoided deportation, was labeled ‘no threat’ – reports

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The Moroccan man who allegedly instigated the attacks in and around Barcelona last week escaped expulsion from Spain in 2015 after serving a sentence for drug trafficking, local media report. The imam posed “no real threat,” the judge ruled back then.

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Albdelbaki Es Satty, one of the deceased members of the Islamist cell which is said to have carried out the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, was ordered to leave Spain in 2014 at the end of his jail term for drug trafficking, according to El Mundo, which obtained access to judicial documents.

Two members of that cell called Es Satty the key organizer of the plot, as the four surviving suspects gave statements at the high court in Madrid on Tuesday.

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Although Es Satty’s role is yet to be defined, Catalan police chief Joseph Lluis Trapero indicated that investigators are working on a hypothesis that the imam radicalized the group’s members, La voz de Galicia reports. Earlier, however, a police spokesperson said they “can’t compromise evidence or leads, or give unreliable information” concerning Es Satty.

The Moroccan-born preacher was detained in 2010 on charges of committing crimes against public health, and was sentenced to four years and one month behind bars. He served time from 2012 to 2014, El Mundo reports, without detailing why the term was reduced.

According to Spanish media, during his time at the Castellon prison, Es Satty made contact with Rachid Aglif, one of the jihadists behind the Madrid train bombings in 2004.

Shortly after being released from prison, Es Satty was ordered by the local authorities to leave Spain and was banned entry for five years, based on the Aliens Act, which allows the deportation of foreigners charged with willful misconduct and who are serving custodial sentences of more than a year.

Es Satty’s lawyer appealed the decree, however, stating it would infringe the defendant’s international rights. The judge, Pablo de la Rubia, sided with the appeal and ruled that the Moroccan was no danger and showed “efforts of integrating into Spanish society,” despite being charged with a serious offense, El Mundo reports.

READ MORE: Barcelona attack suspect reveals bigger attack with explosives was planned

The Moroccan imam died in an accidental blast in a house in Alcanar, where the cell allegedly tried to manufacture explosives a day before the attacks.

In 2016, the Belgian authorities requested information from the Spanish security forces on whether Es Satty had links with Islamist terrorism after suspicions emerged during his stay in the Belgian city of Vilvoorde that year, El Pais reports, citing the city’s mayor, Hans Bonte.

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The head of Vilvoorde’s mosque voiced his concerns after Es Satty “turned up unannounced and said he wanted to be an imam because he had no future in Spain,” Bonte says.

According to the official, the Spanish authorities replied that there was no indication of Es Satty being engaged in radical Islam. Both Belgian and Spanish authorities refused to comment to El Pais, only saying that the imam’s background wasn’t suspicious and they don’t normally share sensitive intelligence.

Es Satty is also believed to have traveled to France on several occasions to take “courses” on bomb-making, La Razon reports.

During Tuesday’s hearing in Madrid, one of the suspected assailants, Mohamed Houli Chemlal, admitted the group planned a larger attack with explosives, according to media citing unnamed judicial officials. On Wednesday, police revealed they had found a belt with real explosives at the house in Alcanar, as well as more than 100 butane canisters, 500 liters of acetone and nails, as AP reports.

READ MORE: Terror timeline: How attacks unfolded in Barcelona & Cambrils

On Thursday, a rented van careened through the crowds at Las Ramblas in Barcelona, killing 13 people and injuring more than 100. Another man was stabbed to death, as the alleged driver, Younes Abouyaaqoub, made his escape on foot. Just hours later in Cambrils, five other men drove their car into pedestrians and went on a stabbing spree, leaving one woman dead.

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It is not the first time a person with a criminal record has escaped deportation, only to appear later as a suspected terrorist having slipped off the radar of law enforcement.

In a similar case, the perpetrator of the Berlin attack last year, Anis Amri, faced deportation from Italy and Germany, but a lack of necessary papers impeded the procedures. With authorities apparently being warned about a possible threat, the Tunisian drove a truck into crowds at a Christmas market, killing 12 people and injuring dozens of others.

Elsewhere, more than 40 convicted terrorists remain in the UK, as they continue to evade deportation to their home countries through the Human Rights Act, according to the Telegraph, citing an unpublished report by the Home Office. Among them is Baghdad Meziane, convicted of funding Al-Qaeda, who remains in Britain due to fears of being tortured in his native Algeria.Safety fears prevented two others from being removed, including Ismail Abdurahman and Siraj Yassin Abdullah Ali, who were convicted of aiding the London bombings in 2005.

*(FROM THE RELIGION OF PEACE) – ISIS warns that cells remain in Barcelona and beyond…

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By Bridget Johnson

A pro-ISIS media outlet that had threatened the “disbelievers” of Spain before last week’s attack issued a fresh warning over the weekend that jihad there “has not been fought and gone” and cells remain in Barcelona and beyond.

Fifteen people were killed and at least 130 injured Thursday when terrorists belonging to a local cell plowed a rented van through crowds on Las Ramblas, a long pedestrian mall in Barcelona. Jared Tucker, 43, of Walnut Creek, Calif., who was on his honeymoon, was one of those killed. The deceased and wounded came from 34 different countries.

The suspected driver of the van, Younes Abouyaaqoub, was shot by police today near a gas station 25 miles west of Barcelona. He was reportedly wearing a fake explosive vest. The cell of 12 men was reportedly in the attack-planning stages for six months and had amassed gas cans to use in vehicle attacks.

The new message, addressed “from the Islamic Republic of Spain to the Government of Spain” and issued by the pro-ISIS Wafa Media Foundation, warns that Spain is still considered a target because of “military operations in the Kingdom of Bahrain and in neighboring Iraq and Somalia.”

“Do not you know, O worshipers of the Cross, that the war has not been fought and gone, and that they live today in Barcelona,” the message added in reference to jihadists.

The message references Gibraltar and Andalusia, which was once under Moor rule and bears many landmarks from its Islamic era, to Catalonia. “This is one of our priorities. Today, we create our own community.”

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The Wafa’ message was the second in a series, with the first part issued last year. The group ominously noted that they don’t plan on issuing a part three.

“Black days during our attack on your big cities like Madrid, Paris, London, and Brussels,” Wafa’ warned in the first part dated March 28, 2016, adding that they will kill “innocent Spanish” as they’re occupying Muslim lands.

In May 2016, Wafa’ warned in a message to the citizens of Spain and all Spanish-speaking countries that lone jihadists existing in those areas would kill the “disbelievers” as “previously planned.” In August 2016, the media foundation said that jihadists had to step up their game to make attacks in Spain worse than terrorist operations in France. Wafa’ pressed jihadists to kidnap or kill Spanish nationals.

 

Pope Francis: Rights of Migrants Trump National Security Concerns

By Breitbart News

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Monday urged countries to greatly improve their welcome to migrants and stop collective expulsions, saying migrants’ dignity and right to protection trumps national security concerns.

Francis’ politically pointed message was made in view of the Catholic Church’s 2018 world refugee day, celebrated Jan. 14. It comes amid mounting anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe and beyond following waves of migrant arrivals and Islamic extremist attacks.

In the message, Francis demanded governments welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants, saying Jesus’ message of love is rooted in welcoming the “rejected strangers of every age.”

He demanded a simplified process of granting humanitarian and temporary visas and rejected arbitrary and collective expulsions as “unsuitable.” He said the principle of ensuring each person’s dignity “obliges us to always prioritize personal safety over national security.”

Francis has made refugees a priority of his pontificate, making his first trip outside Rome in 2013 to the island of Lampedusa, ground zero in Europe’s migration crisis. He has repeatedly spoken out for migrants’ rights, demanded countries build “bridges not walls,” and personally brought a dozen Syrian refugees back to Rome with him when he visited a Greek refugee camp in 2016.

Ignoring critics who say his calls are unrealistic and naive, Francis insisted in the new message that border guards must be trained to protect migrants and that each new arrival, regardless of legal status, must be guaranteed access to basic services beyond health care.

That extends to guaranteeing access to consulates, the justice system and the ability to open a bank account and survive financially, he said.

Unaccompanied minors, he said, require even greater protection, including guaranteeing them citizenship and access to schooling, as well as foster programs rather than detention centers.

He called for policies that support family reunification, employment opportunities and accelerated citizenship procedures to improve migrants’ abilities to integrate.

His call was immediately rejected by the leader of Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League party, which has opposed government proposals to change Italy’s law to accelerate citizenship for children born in Italy to non-Italians.

“If you want to do it in the Vatican, go ahead,” Matteo Salvini wrote on Facebook. “But as a Catholic, I don’t think Italy can welcome and support the whole world.”

CNN: Copycat of Charlottesville?

CNN: There Will Be Questions About Whether Barcelona Attack Was ‘Copycat’ of Charlottesville

BY: David Rutz

CNN host Wolf Blitzer said Thursday there would be questions if the Barcelona terror attack involving a van crashing into a group of people was a “copycat” of what happened in Charlottesville, Va.

At least 13 people were killed and more than 50 were injured in Barcelona on Thursday when men rammed their van into a crowd of pedestrians at Las Ramblas, a popular tourism area in the city in northeastern Spain. The attack came five days after a man with white supremacist group ties was arrested for driving his car into a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, killing one woman and injuring multiple others.

CNN national security correspondent Jim Sciutto said the “shared tactics” of the attackers in both instances was “alarming.”

“In light of the uproar of the last several days, five days apart you have a white supremacist in Charlottesville use a vehicle to kill, and here you have attackers at least following the modus operandi of terrorists using vehicles apparently to kill as well, and those shared tactics that should be alarming,” Sciutto said.

“There will be questions about copycats,” Blitzer said. “There will be questions if what happened in Barcelona was at all a copycat version of what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia. Even though there may be different characters, different political ambitions, they used the same killing device: a vehicle going at high speed into a group, a large group of pedestrians.”

There have been multiple terror attacks before the events in Charlottesville involving perpetrators using cars; last July, a terrorist in Nice, France, killed 84 people by plowing his truck into crowds celebrating Bastille Day.

UPDATE: 2:34 P.M.: This article was updated with more up-to-date information on the victims in Barcelona.

*(MORE FROM THE RELIGION OF PEACE) – Barcelona terrorist attack: 13 dead, 50+ injured as van plows into pedestrians in tourist area

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Thirteen people have died and more than 50 others have been injured in a “massive crash” involving a van in Barcelona‘s city center, local police have confirmed. Authorities have called the incident a “terrorist attack.”

Catalan Interior Ministry official, Joaquim Forn, confirmed the death toll in the attack on his Twitter page.

Two people have been arrested in connection with the deadly van attack in Barcelona, Catalan’s regional head Carles Puigdemont has said.

Earlier, the local police said that one person has been detained, with images of the arrest circulating online.

The Spanish prime minister said he was on his way to Barcelona to reinforce security in the city.

“Maximum coordination to arrest the attackers, reinforce security and attend to all those affected,” Mariano Rajoy wrote on Twitter.

Earlier, the La Vanguardia newspaper reported that one of the perpetrators involved in the van attack had been shot dead by police during a gunfight.

A white van smashed into a crowd on the famous La Rambla, a street popular with tourists visiting the city.

The crash occurred after the van jumped the sidewalk, AP reported.

Catalan Police said they were treating the incident as a terrorist attack.

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL) claimed responsibility for the attack through it’s Amaq news agency.

The driver of the vehicle escaped on foot, according to El Nacional.

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The Spanish passport of a person of Moroccan origin was left at the scene of the attack, Barcelona’s TV3 reported.

Media reports say the suspect behind the attack is a man by the name of Driss Oukabir.

The vehicle used in the attack was a rented Fiat van. The perpetrators had also rented a second car with which they had planned to flee, according to La Vanguardia.

Police located the second van connected to the attack in the Catalan town of Vic, Reuters reported, citing local authorities.

A person tweeted following the attack that they were stuck in a restaurant, adding that armed police are “everywhere.”

Catalan Emergency Services tweeted that an incident occurred near Plaça Catalunya and advised people to avoid the area.

It said in a second tweet that the closure of rail stations in the area had been requested.

Authorities have cordoned off the area and shut down nearby stores. A helicopter could be seen hovering above the scene.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he was in contact with authorities, stressing that the priority was to help the injured.

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Authorities have asked people to refrain from sharing pictures of those injured on social media, out of respect for the victims.

Vehicles have been used to ram into crowds in Europe in a series of terrorist attacks since July 2016, when the driver of a truck plowed into people celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France, killing over 100 people. Similar attacks have since taken place in Berlin, London and Stockholm.

*(FROM THE RELIGION OF PEACE) – BREAKING: VAN SMASHES INTO CROWD IN BARCELONA, 13 DEAD, MULTIPLE INJURED

Police treating incident as terror attack…

Infowars.com – AUGUST 17, 2017

A van plowed into numerous pedestrians outside a food market in Barcelona Thursday leaving 13 dead and more than a dozen injured, in what police are describing as a terror attack.

“Witnesses said a white van driven by a man mounted the pavement before crashing into pedestrians. The driver then fled the scene,” reports Express.co.uk.

Subsequent reports claim gunshots were heard near the La Boqueria food market, and El Periodico newspaper  reports that two men entered a nearby bar and took people hostage.

Devastating footage from Twitter shows the gruesome aftermath of Thursday’s truck attack.

Warning: graphic footage.

“Metro lines have been shut and shoppers and pedestrians have been seen running into buildings as armed police flooded the area,” according to The Sun.

A graphic from the BBC maps the path of the truck as it rammed into a pedestrian zone:

Thursday’s truck incident follows months of jihadist attacks in Europe and the UK mainly attributed to radical Islamists, with the terror group ISIS claiming responsibility for much of the violence.

More on this as it develops…