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Van Mows Down People on Barcelona's Ramblas: 13 confirmed dead, dozens injured - UPDATES

The van thought to have been used in the attack.
Up to 13 people are feared dead and dozens have been injured after a van crashed into a crowd of people in central Barcelona, as police confirmed that one suspected attacker has been arrested.

Catalonia's TV3 reported that 13 people had died and dozens were injured, but these numbers have not been confirmed by Spanish authorities. Catalan police have so far confirmed one death and said 32 people have been injured, 10 of them seriously.

Spanish police, who are treating the incident as a terrorist attack, said the "massive crash" happened on Las Ramblas in an area of the city popular with tourists.

This is the latest terrorist attack using a vehicle in Europe, following similar atrocities in Nice, Berlin and London that have claimed more than 100 lives in total.

Television pictures showed a crashed van stopped on top of a Joan Míro mosaic halfway down Las Ramblas. It reportedly entered the wide boulevard where it meets the Plaça de Catalunya, then drove towards the port area, meaning it would have covered more than 500 metres.

Comment: Coming just a few weeks before Catalonia's referendum, this event will surely be used by Spanish authorities to argue for a 'No' vote. After all, if this kind of attack can happen in the heart of Catalonia, surely Catalonians are safer, and therefore better off, in the bosom of the Spanish state.

Coming just a few days after the 'car attack' in Charlottesville in the US, it is also a 'timely' reminder to the people of Western nations that the world is a very dangerous and threatening place, and all right-thinking people should place their trust and faith in the protective power of their respective states.

Update 1

The first footage of the crash scene has made it online. An eyewitness told RT:
"I saw bunch of people running and screaming," said Sissing, on holiday in Spain from the UK. "The van was speeding through under the trees in the pedestrian area. The van was going - I don't know - at 80 to 100kmh. It was really fast. It was knocking people down - maybe 10 or 15 people. Then the van stopped, and it was pretty badly damaged when I saw it. There were hundreds of people there. Then accelerated again, and kept on going. I saw at least 10 people on the ground, some receiving treatment."
RT journalist Daniel Chalyan was on the scene:
"There was panic. People were running everywhere down the wrong side of the street. No one knew what had actually happened - people said that someone had planted a bomb," Chalyan said. "Police ordered us to hide. I am in a clothing store with two owners, and six customers. The windows are shuttered, we are on lockdown and still can't get out, though the situation outside is getting calmer."
Police reportedly have one suspect in custody in connection with a terrorism charge. Spanish media are circulating a photo and name (Driss Oukabir) alleged to be of a suspect.

And now, on cue: ISIS has claimed responsibility, via its Amaq "news agency".

Update 2

A Spanish news station reports that, surprise surprise, a passport was conveniently found inside the van used in the attack. Also, the CIA reportedly warned the Catalan police of a possible van ramming attack a few months ago. The more news that comes out, the more this begins to look like state-sponsored terror.

Update 3

Driss Oukabir has handed himself in to police, claiming that his identity stolen and that he had nothing to do with the attack.

The driver of the van remains at large. Police just say 'he ran off on foot...'

Update 4

Two men are now in custody, but neither was the driver. One is Moroccan, the other from Melilla, a Spanish enclave. A second van was found north of Barcelona, in the town of Vic; it was reportedly intended to be a getaway vehicle.

At 7:30pm local time, a second attack took place at a police checkpoint on Barcelona's Avinguda Diagonal. Two officers were run over; the driver was shot dead by police. It's not yet clear if this is connected to the van attack.

Another incident - a house explosion last night at a house in Alcanar that killed 1 (a Moroccan) and injured 6 - is believed to be connected with today's attack. Firefighters found about 20 gas cylinders at the scene and documents that police say link the site to today's attack.

Update 5 (Aug. 18)

In another one of those strange coincidences, the mother of a woman who survived the Bataclan Theatre attack in France witnessed the Barcelona attack. See RT's interview with the mother here. 119 were injured in the van ramming, 15 seriously. The death toll is now up to 14. More footage of the aftermath here. And the first CCTV footage of the van itself, briefly visible through the window of a museum:

Two more men have been brought into custody, bringing the total to 4 (3 Moroccans and 1 Spaniard), but the driver is still yet to be identified, according to Catalan regional police official Josep Lluis Trapero.
"None of the four detainees arrested [following] the Cambrils and #Barcelona attacks had a history of terrorism-related offenses," Catalan police tweeted.

The detained suspects were preparing a bigger attack, according to police. "They were preparing one or several attacks in Barcelona and an explosion in Alcanar stopped this as they no longer had the material they needed to commit attacks of an even bigger scope," said Trapero said, as cited by AFP.

Police said they are investigating if the terrorists had been being planning the attacks for some time. "We work with the hypothesis that the suspects were preparing both attacks for some time in this building of Alcanar. It was a group, we do not know the specific number, but we do not rule out having other attacks in mind. They are all identified," he said.
At least one of the suspects was arrested in the town of Ripoll, police said earlier. "There could be more people in Ripoll connected to the group,'' regional Interior Ministry chief Joaquim Forn told TV3 television, as cited by AP. He added that "a numerous group" could be behind the attack, in an interview to Onda Cero radio.
Turns out Catalan police allegedly were warned by the CIA of a possible attack on Las Ramblas 2 months ago:
The CIA told Los Mossos, the Catalonian regional police force, that Barcelona was a top target for jihadist terrorists as recently as June this year, El Peridoco, a local paper, reported on Friday.

"Two months ago the Central Intelligence Agency passed a notice to the Catalan autonomous police," the paper said. "It even warned of the risk to Las Ramblas," the pedestrian thoroughfare hit by an attack on Thursday.

The Telegraph could not immediately verify the report.
Update 6

Another attack, this time at Cambrils near Barcelona: At least six injured after car rams pedestrians at Cambrils seafront near Barcelona, five suspected terrorists killed in police shootout

Update 7 (August 19)

In the Cambrils attack, one Spanish police officer reportedly killed 4 of the attackers while protecting his wounded partner. After ramming 4 people on the beach promenade, their car hit a police cruiser and overturned:
The terrorists got out of the vehicle and attempted to stab pedestrians with knives and an axe. They were wearing items resembling suicide vests which turned out to be fake.

Two officers were inside the police car. One of them suffered head and leg injuries in the crash and his partner was forced to confront the attackers on his own.

He shot and killed four of them.

Graphic footage of the confrontation, obtained by La Vanguardia, captured the moment one of the terrorists was being gunned down by the officer with several onlookers watching on in shock.

The perpetrator is seen taunting the officer, shouting: "Allahu akbar," and ignoring commands to surrender and lay down. After the first shots were fired at him, the suspect falls to the ground, but quickly stands up and continues running until more bullets hit him.

The name of the policeman who killed the four terrorists remains undisclosed. La Vanguardia reports that psychologists counseled him after the incident.

The fifth attacker managed to flee while injuring a woman who later died in hospital. He was shot dead by another police unit shortly afterwards.

Police identified all 5 terrorist cell members killed in Cambrils, but are still unsure if one of them was the driver of the van involved in the Barcelona ramming earlier.

Three Moroccans and one Spaniard have been detained in relation to the Catalonia vehicle ramming attacks. Police said the cell of at least 12 members were preparing a bigger bombing attack. Out of 3 remaining identified suspects, two might have been killed in the blast in Alcanar, and at least one - Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22 - is still at large.
All five of those killed are Moroccans: Omar Hychami, 21, born in Morocco; 19-year-old Moroccans Houssaine Abouyaaqoub and Said Aallaa; Mohamed Hychami, 24, born in Morocco and Moussa Oukabir, 17.

Authorities are linking the Cambrils and Barcelona attacks, calling them a 'plan B' after the bomb plot was disrupted by the seemingly accidental explosion in Alcanar.

Update 8 (August 20)

A missing Australian boy has been confirmed dead in the attack. Authorities say the Sagrada Familia was the prime target of the botched bomb plot. No word on how exactly the police have confirmed that, however (perhaps from those in custody?). Here's the latest on the house explosion:
Examining the ruins of the Alcanar explosion site, investigators found an arsenal of explosive material; including dozens of tanks of butane gas and traces of the triacetate triperoxide (TATP) explosive, dubbed the 'Mother of Satan.'

Triacetone triperoxide has been used by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and other terrorists before - the 7/7 bombings in London and the November 2015 Paris attacks. TATP which looks like a white powder is highly unstable and difficult to detect; but it can explode with a force that's roughly 80 percent as strong as TNT. Terrorists presumably planned to detonate the gas by using TATP explosives.
Police raided the house of a local imam, Abdelbak Es Satty, believed to be connected with the group.
Officers were reportedly seeking to find DNA samples of the cleric, identified as Abdelbaki Es Satty, which might link him to the terrorist hideout in Alcanar, where an explosion destroyed a house on Wednesday.

The Alcanar house reportedly served as the base from which the terrorists were preparing their attacks. The imam went missing several days ago and was last seen Tuesday, Reuters reported citing Es Satty's landlord.

Investigators believe he might be one of the two dead persons discovered in the rubble of the house in Alcanar.

Authorities did not find the imam in the small apartment. One of the rooms, reports say, was sublet to a Moroccan. In the living room, police discovered a mattress with the sheets on the floor, a five-seater corner sofa and a TV, El Pais reports.

Es Satty has been a practicing imam in Ripoll since 2015 and taught Arabic classes to young children of the congregation. He is believed to be the religious mentor of several of the identified terrorists who lived in the same town, namely: brothers Driss and Moussa Oukabirm as well as Mohammed Hychami and Younes Abouyaaqoub, who is considered the mastermind of the Barcelona attack and currently on the run.
Satty could have also influenced Said Aallaa, another terrorist cell member, who came from the town of Ribes de Freser, 13 kilometers from Ripoll.

The Ripoll imam was allegedly imprisoned at Castellón jail between 2010 and 2012 for drug-related offenses, according to anti-terrorist sources cited by El Confidencial. Neighbors of the cleric, however, note his humble behavior and his ability not to stand out from the crowd.
See also: Update 9 (August 21)

The suspect at large - Younes Abouyaaqoub, believed to have been the driver of the Barcelona attack - was shot and killed (though an earlier report said shot and arrested) today in Subirats, about an hour away from Barcelona. He was reportedly wearing a fake suicide belt.
Local media said police managed to find and shoot him on a road near a sewage treatment plant.
Police have also confirmed that one of those killed in the Alcanar explosion was imam Abdelbaki Es Satty:
"On Tuesday morning, he left saying he was going on vacation to Morocco," said fruit-seller Nordeen El Haji, 45, who four months ago moved into the apartment that Satty occupied in Ripoll.

The decrepit two-room flat rented for 150 euros ($175) a month has a view of the tree-covered Pyrenees and the red roofs of the quaint Catalonian town, 90 kilometres (50 miles) north of Barcelona.
"He spoke little, spent time with his computer in his room, and had an old mobile phone with no internet, and few books," said Satty's flatmate.
As local media speculated on the influence of the imam on the young attackers, his flatmate said that in the last four months, he had not hosted any youths in the apartment.

"This imam was normal and ordinary in public," said Mohamed Akhayad, a 26-year-old Moroccan electrician-mechanic, who sometimes went to the prayer hall that opened in 2016 where he preached.

"If he ate up the brains of these youths, he must have done it secretly, in a secret place," he said at the main Moroccan cafe in town.
Another Moroccan, who did not want to give his name, described the imam as "very solitary, and hung out more with these youths than with people of his age".

The 43-year-old man said he knew the young suspects in the attacks, as he had organised football matches with them.
In Sant Pere street where the imam lived, a 64-year-old local, Francesc Gimeno, said the man "had a reputation of being very Islamist".

"He wanted all the Moroccans to think like him, putting religion above all," said Gimeno, saying he also "required Moroccan women in town to cover themselves".

But Hammou Minhaj, 30, a Moroccan and secretary of Ripoll's Muslim community, said: "He doesn't say that here at the mosque. Outside, I don't know."

Satty arrived in Ripoll in 2015, said Minhaj.

- 'Knows the Koran better than us' -

But then "he went to Belgium as imam, at least that's what he said, before returning to Ripoll," added Minhaj.

"He started as an imam in our new mosque in April 2016. What's important is that he knows the Koran better than we do."

But at the end of June, the imam asked for three months' leave to go to Morocco on holiday, Minhaj said.

In Belgium, the mayor of the Vilvorde region told AFP that Satty spent time in the Brussels suburb of Machelen between January and March 2016.

Brussel's Molenbeek suburb -- on the other side of the city -- has gained notoriety as a hotbed of international jihadists after the March 2016 Brussels attacks and the November 2015 Paris assaults.

In the Moroccan town of M'rirt, relatives of the 22-year-old who police believe drove the van into crowds in Barcelona, Younes Abouyaaqoub, also accused the imam of radicalising the young man as well as his brother Houssein.

"Over the last two years, Younes and Houssein began to radicalise under the influence of this imam," their grandfather told AFP
A neighbour close to the Abouyaaquob family, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the imam "had recruited Moroccans of Ripoll and planned the attacks".

"He took leave from the mosque saying he had to return to Morocco to deal with inheritance problems. So another imam was found to replace him at the mosque, but a few days before the attacks, he was seen in Ripoll," added the source, who also has family in the small town.
Update 10 (Aug. 22)

Barcelona attack suspect tells court that cell planned bigger attack with explosives

Arrow Down

Trump breaks the record: Cuts more US debt for a longer period of time than any president in US history

Debt Reducer in Chief
It's Now Official - No President in US History has Cut More from the US Federal Debt for a Longer Period of Time than President Donald J. Trump.

President Trump now can claim the longest and largest decrease of US Federal Debt in US history.

When President Trump was inaugurated on January 20, 2017 the amount of US Federal Debt owed both externally and internally was over $19 Trillion at $19,947,304,555,212. As of August 17th the amount of US Debt had decreased by more than $100 Billion to $19,845,188,460,167. No President in US history has ever cut the amount of US Debt by this amount and no President has resided over a debt cut like this ever.

Comment: Giant step in the right direction. Need about 190 more of these!

Star of David

What'll it be? Unequivocal support for Israel or First Amendment rights?

© solymone blog
Central Command
An alarming paradox has taken shape in legislation before Congress: Our representatives would violate Americans' First Amendment rights in order to protect the State of Israel.

This draconian legislation is H.R. 1697/S. 720, the "Israel Anti-Boycott Act," is a proposed law that could harshly penalize the free speech of Americans who support the international Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

By amending existing laws (Export Administration act of 1979 and the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945), this bill would prohibit Americans from supporting BDS against Israel, as an ally of the U.S. This would include barring an American from promoting boycotts of Israel's illegal settlements and their products, as well as even requesting information about BDS. Beyond muzzling our constitutional right to speak freely, express political opinions, the punishments themselves are extreme: minimal civil penalty of $250,000 and maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison.

Taking no position on BDS, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has severely denounced the bill in a letter urging Senators "to refrain from cosponsoring this legislation because it would punish individuals for no reason other than their political beliefs."

The progressive group MoveOn.org opposes the legislation as it would criminalize free speech, as does the organization J Street (which opposes boycotts of Israel) because the bills threaten free speech.

The scary part? There are now 291 cosponsors for what amounts to violating our rights: 46 in the Senate (14 Democrats; 32 Republicans), and 245 in the House (182 Republicans; 63 Democrats).

Comment: What is the American public's responsibility in making sure their rights are active, respected and undeniable? How many complacent Americans even suspect there is a threat to their liberty and way of life? Choices are being made in favor of Israel to the permanent detriment of the public. Wake up USA!!! The US Congress is choosing Zionist Israel and its diabolical bag of slick tricks over you. It is selling you out.

Snakes in Suits

Bessam Melik: 'I understood that the West, Gulf States want to partition Syria'

© Nerinaazad
Bessam Melik
According to information obtained by Sputnik Turkey from a source in the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (aka the Syrian National Coalition), which comprises various opposition groups fighting in the Syrian war, one of the leaders of the rebel coalition came down to the side of President Bashar Assad's government.

Bessam Melik is reportedly resigned as a member of the Syrian National Coalition, left Turkey and returned to Syria.

In his written statement cited by Sputnik Turkey, Melik explained his step by saying that after seven years of anti-Assad activities, he "realized that the US, Western countries and the Persian Gulf states are conspiring against Syria aiming to partition the Syrian territory."

At the end of 2011, when the clashes in Syria had just begun, Malik fled from Damascus to Turkey, where he joined the ranks of the Syrian National Coalition. Before leaving the country, Melik led the Chamber of Commerce of Damascus.

The news comes a week after it was reported that Turkey had decided to end its support for the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces.

Founded in November 2012, the Syrian National Coalition received $320,000 in annual support from Turkey.

Comment: It is obvious, from Melik's realization, that those who have been a part of the war mechanism have about as much clue to their participatory purpose and the US coalition's desired outcome trajectory as the common Western public that feeds on MSM news.


Iran continues its missile program despite international pressure

© AFP 2017/ Mahmood Hosseini /TASNIM NEWS
Iran will not abandon its missile program and will continue activities related to the country's defense industry, Iran's new Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Amir Hatami said.

On Sunday, the Iranian parliament had approved almost all Cabinet candidates proposed by the country's President Hassan Rouhani, except the nominee for the position of the energy minister. Hatami was appointed as the country's new defense minister.

"We will firmly stick to our defense industry and will not allow a day of delay in defense ministry's mission," Hatami told reporters when asked about his response to certain countries' pressure on Iran's missile program as quoted by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). Hatami was speaking on the sidelines of the first cabinet meeting of the newly-formed Iranian Cabinet.

Addressing the parliament on Sunday, Rouhani stressed that the most important goal of the new government would be to safeguard the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).


Canada's PM warns asylum seekers that crossing the border illegally will not fast track immigration

© Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press
Asylum seekers rest in a tent at the Canada-United States border in Lacolle, Que.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has a message for asylum seekers: crossing illegally into the country doesn't offer an advantage when it comes to obtaining refugee status in Canada.

"If I could directly speak to people seeking asylum, I'd like to remind them there's no advantage," Trudeau said at a news conference Sunday in Montreal.

"Our rules, our principles and our laws apply to everyone."

Trudeau's comments come as the government grapples with a surge in asylum seekers crossing into Quebec.

In the first two weeks of August, more than 3,800 people walked over the border into the province, compared to the 2,996 who crossed throughout all of July.

Speaking prior to Montreal's Pride Parade, Trudeau stressed that anyone seeking refugee status will have to go through Canada's "rigorous" screening process.


Russia and Egypt discuss resolving the Syrian conflict

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia is in contact with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other partners in order to create a united delegation of the so-called "Syrian opposition" for negotiations with the government in Damascus.

During a joint press conference, held with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry after today's talks in Moscow, Lavrov said Russia and Egypt are actively working to provide assistance in formation of a joint delegation of the opposition in order to negotiate with the Syrian state, noting that the process of forming such delegation must be conducted on a constructive and realistic basis.

"We cooperate with other partners, Saudi Arabia including", Lavrov was heard saying, adding that the results of the efforts will be available soon.

He also said Egypt's role in resolving the Syrian conflict has been highly important, especially as regards preparing de-escalation zones within Syrian territory.


That sinking feeling - US warships

© Reuters/Ahmad Masood
The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain is seen after a collision, in Singapore waters August 21, 2017.
It doesn't inspire confidence that the US Navy manages to crash another of its top-notch warships - on the same day that it launches military drills off Korea; drills which could spark an accidental nuclear war.

If the US Navy can't control its own vessels in normal civilian maritime situations, what does that say about the competence, or lack of, in nail-biting war scenarios?

In the latest incident, the guided-missile destroyer USS John S McCain collided with an oil tanker near Singapore. This was the fourth major accident involving the US Navy this year - and all were in Asia-Pacific. Ten American sailors are missing and, from the extensive damage to the ship, presumed dead.

As one flabbergasted US military pundit told CNN: "How does a state-of-the-art navy destroyer equipped with multiple radar systems and communications gear with a full-bridge watch not see, detect and evade a 30,000 ton slow-moving (10 knots) behemoth?"

The US destroyer in question is fitted with the Aegis anti-missile system, which is supposed to be the apex of American technology for this kind of weaponry. There are reportedly 14 such vessels operated by the US 7th Fleet in the Asia-Pacific. The ships are purported to be a key part of the defense system for the US and its allies against North Korean ballistic weapons.


Cheap American hypocrites! In Europe Nazis are good - in U.S. Nazis are bad

Charlottesville - Putin did it!
Back in 2013-2014, when organized gangs of armed neo-nazis were fighting police in Kiev, Ukraine, the mainstream media was spinning it as "government repressing peaceful democratic protest" and the Obama administration showed them support.

For years, Nazi SS veterans have been conducting their annual marches in the Baltic States (those states are NATO members, by the way; the US oversees and finances their military programs). The media has been ignoring them.

Back in 2016, the United States was among 3 nations that voted against prohibiting the glorification of Nazism at the UN (vote name A/C.3/69/L.56/Rev.1). The media ignored that.


Saudi Arabia ready to provide 7 aircraft for free transport of Qatari Hajj pilgrims

© AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed
Saudi Arabia's national carrier has allocated seven of its modern aircraft to transfer Qatari pilgrims to perform Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage, local media reported, citing the airline's representatives.

On Thursday, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud reopened borders with Qatar and invited Qatari pilgrims to Hajj at his expense in spite of the diplomatic rift between several Arab states and Qatar. On Sunday, Saudi Arabian Airlines Director General Saleh Jasser said that the company had not yet taken Qatari pilgrims from Doha for Hajj due to the lack of authorization for landing in Doha airport from Qatari authorities.