BARCELONA: A man accused of being involved in the terror attacks in Spain has told a courtroom that a bigger atrocity was planned, according to judicial sources.
Mohamed Houli Chemlal reportedly confessed to police and a judge under questioning at Madrid’s National Court.
The 21-year-old is one of four detained suspects taken to the Spanish capital to testify for the first time about the plot.
Chemlal was arrested after being injured in an explosion at a house in Alcanar, southwest of Barcelona, a day before a van drove into pedestrians on the crowded Las Ramblas boulevard.
Officials believe bombs were being prepared at that property for “one or more attacks in Barcelona” – and the explosion killed an imam who is thought to have radicalised the other suspects.
Two of the suspects in court said the imam, Abdelbaki es Satty, was the instigator of the plot.
One of them also revealed that the terror cell had wanted to strike some of Barcelona’s best-known monuments – and es Satty had been planning a suicide attack.
Josep Lluis Trapero, the head of police in Catalonia, has said that 120 gas canisters and traces of TATP components had been found at the makeshift bomb factory.
Chemlal was joined in court by three other suspects who are believed to be the only surviving members of a 12-strong terror cell.
Driss Oukabir was also questioned during the hearing.
Although he told prosecutors he had rented the van used in the Las Ramblas attack, he said he believed it was going to used for a house move.
Chemlal and Oukabir – along with Salah el Karib and Mohammed Aalla – have been charged over the attacks, and prosecutors were seeking for them to be sent to prison without bail.
Aalla is the alleged owner of the car used to strike civilians and a police officer in Cambrils.
A total of 15 people were killed and 120 others wounded in last week’s terror attacks.
Younes Abouyaaquob, who is suspected of driving the van through crowds of tourists on Las Ramblas, was shot dead by police on Monday.
Oukabir’s younger brother, Moussa, was among the five suspected terrorists killed in a shootout with police in Cambrils early on Friday morning.