The CIA warned Spanish police three months ago that ISIS was plotting to attack tourist areas in Barcelona – and specifically mentioned Las Ramblas, it has emerged.
A memo from the American intelligence service predicting a massacre at the busy street was sent to authorities including the Catalan regional Mossos d’Esquadra force on May 25.
But 12 weeks later, 14 were killed when a jihadist drove a van through crowds of shoppers and holidaymakers.
The CIA warned Spanish police three months ago that ISIS was plotting to attack tourist areas in Barcelona – and specifically mentioned Las Ramblas, it has emerged
A memo from the American intelligence service predicting a massacre at the busy street was sent to authorities including the Catalan regional Mossos d’Esquadra force on May 25. But 12 weeks later, 14 were killed when a jihadist drove a van through crowds of shoppers and holidaymakers
Respected Spanish newspaper El Periodico published what it claims was a copy of the warning message.
It stated: ‘Unsubstantiated information of unknown veracity from late May 2017 indicated that the Islamic State of Irak and ash-Sham (ISIS) was planning to conduct unspecified terrorist attacks during the summer against crowded tourist sites in Barcelona, Spain, specifically La Rambla Street.’
A first paragraph in the message, dubbed secret, said: ‘This information is provided only for intelligence purposes in an effort to develop potential investigative leads.
‘It may not be used in any way that will expose or jeopardise intelligence sources or methods.
‘It cannot be used in connection with any foreign or domestic court proceedings or for any other legal judicial or administrative purposes.’
El Periodico said US government organisation the National Counterterrorism Center which includes the CIA and FBI, sent the warning to Spain’s official intelligence agency the CNI as well as Spanish police forces including the Catalan regional Mossos d’Esquadra force on May 25.
The tally of victims from the two terror attacks rose to 16 earlier this week after a woman died in hospital from her injuries
It reported Spain’s National Police contacted Mossos chief Manel Castellvi the same day to make sure he had received the information.
Regional authorities in Catalonia denied reports that US anti-terrorism officials warned them of a planned attack.
However, they admitted receiving tips of possible attacks from other sources they deemed not very credible.
Catalan regional interior chief Joaquim Forn said regional police were not warned by the CIA or the National Counterterrorism Centre, adding that such warnings would be made through state channels.
There was no immediate official comment from the Mossos d’Esquadra although the force announced a hastily-arranged press conference due to start at midday today on the back of El Periodico’s exclusive.
Spain’s National Police passed requests for information on to the country’s Ministry of Interior, who also said they had no-one immediately available to comment this morning.
Initial claims by El Periodico hours after the Barcelona terror attack that the CIA had warned local police the famous street could be targeted, were met with denials by top-level officials including Mossos chief Josep Luis Trapero and regional government president Carlos Puigdemont.
They said the Catalan force exchanged information with other police forces but not with international intelligence services whose dialogue was with the Spanish state.
Mr Trapero complained earlier this week that Spain’s National Police does not pass on all the information it receives from European security organisations relating to Catalunya.
Mossos chief Josep Luis Trapero (right at a press conference today) complained earlier this week that Spain’s National Police does not pass on all the information it receives from European security organisations relating to Catalunya
Speaking against a backdrop of private and publicly-expressed unrest about the cooperation between Spain’s national and regional police forces following the Barcelona attack, he said of the information flow: ‘It doesn’t pass from Madrid to here. It doesn’t flow.’
He has Insisted his force knew ‘practically nothing’ about radical imam Abdelbaki Es Satty, the alleged mastermind of the terror attacks in Barcelona and the seaside resort of Cambrils hours later where five terrorists were killed as they went on a gun and knife rampage.
He said the Mossos were permanently being questioned, adding: ‘Some sprinkle the Mossos with flowers and other throw s**t.’
Those comments, made on Catalunya Radio station, followed reports Belgian police warned the Mossos about Es Satty after he allegedly tried to recruit terrorists there during a three-month stay at the start of last year.
He also claimed that Spain’s National Police had failed to inform them in 2005 that they had put a tap on Es Satty’s phone during an investigation.
The radical preacher died during an explosion at a bomb-making factory in Alcanar in the province of Tarragona which sparked the terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils.
Explosives being prepared at the rural house were due to be used to bomb popular tourist spots in the Catalan capital including the Sagrada Familia.
The Spanish government tried to kick Es Satty, 42, out of the country in 2014 after he served a sentence for drugs smuggling.
But a judge said two EU directives gave Es Satty the right to stay in the country – because he did not pose a ‘serious threat’.
After the failed attempt to deport him, the radical imam went on to brainwash members of the cell who murdered 16 and injured more than 100 in the Barcelona and Cambrils terror attacks.
One of the victims was a Spaniard stabbed to death by Las Ramblas van driver Younes Abouyaaqoub as he went on the run.
The tally of victims from the two terror attacks rose to 16 earlier this week after a woman died in hospital from her injuries.