Most of the terror suspects Moroccans

From left: Moussa Oukabir, Younes Abouyaaqoub, Said Aallaa and Mohamed Hychami. They were aged 17 to 24. Younes allegedly drove a white van down a promenade popular with tourists in Barcelona.
Moussa Oukabir and Younes Abouyaaqoub. They were aged 17 to 24. Younes allegedly drove a white van down a promenade popular with tourists in Barcelona.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
From left: Moussa Oukabir, Younes Abouyaaqoub, Said Aallaa and Mohamed Hychami. They were aged 17 to 24. Younes allegedly drove a white van down a promenade popular with tourists in Barcelona.
Said Aallaa and Mohamed Hychami. They were aged 17 to 24. Younes allegedly drove a white van down a promenade popular with tourists in Barcelona.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BARCELONA • The perpetrators of the terror attacks in Spain and Finland were young men who were in their 20s, if not teens, and most of them were Moroccans.

These two aspects - age and nationality - are what appear to have set the attacks of the past few days apart from earlier ones.

In the London Bridge terrorist attack in June, one of the three attackers - all of whom were killed by policemen - was Moroccan-Italian Youssef Zaghba, 22.

Spain has a sizeable community of Moroccans. They form the biggest foreign group in the country.

The driver of a white van that zigzagged down a promenade popular with tourists in Barcelona to inflict maximum destruction was said to be 22-year-old Moroccan Younes Abouyaaqoub.

Of the five men who were shot dead by Spanish police in Cambrils in a second car attack last Friday, three were aged 17 to 24.

They were Mohamed Hychami, 24, Said Aallaa, 18, and Moussa Oukabir.

Moussa's older brother Driss, 28, has been arrested in connection with the rampage.

Moussa, who would have celebrated his 18th birthday in October, was born in Ripoll, a Spanish town of around 10,000 people about 100km north of Barcelona.

The family have since lived between Spain and the Moroccan towns of Melouiya and Aghbala.

Mr Said Oukabir, who lives in Melouiya, a village high in Morocco's Atlas Mountains, said his sons had shown no sign of radicalisation.

A cousin said Moussa travelled to Morocco almost every year for the summer holidays and was expected back last Tuesday.

"The last few months, he started to become interested in religion. He used to go to a mosque in Ripoll. Maybe that's where he was brainwashed," he said, adding the brothers' parents had recently divorced.

In the stabbing attack in the Finnish town of Turku last Friday, police said the suspect is an 18-year-old who came to Finland as an asylum seeker last year.

Four other Moroccan nationals have also been arrested while another suspect is still at large.

A witness said he saw the knife-wielding man screaming "God is great" in Arabic.

But local police would not confirm whether the assailant had been yelling in Arabic, according to The New York Times.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 20, 2017, with the headline 'Most of the terror suspects Moroccans'. Print Edition | Subscribe