"With your money we prepare to kill you. The problem is you, not us. Every ounce of this iron will be put into your heads or your children's heads or your women's heads". This is one of the phrases of Mohamed Hichamy, one of the 17-A terrorists, addressing the camera with laughter in a video recorded when they were preparing explosives in Alcanar before the chalet exploded. The images were seen this morning at the first session of the trial for the terrorist attacks of 17 and 18 August 2017 in Barcelona and Cambrils. The prosecution has asked to play the videos after one of the defendants, Mohamed Houli Chemlal, who was injured in the Alcanar explosion, announced that he would not testify - despite the fact that he finally answered some questions from his lawyer.
The images, recorded by Houli, show Hichamy -killed in the attack in Cambrils-, Youssef Aalla -killed in the Alcanar explosion-, and Younes Abouyaaqoub -driver of the van in the attack on the Ramblas and killed in Subirats - handling belts of explosives. "We have been chosen from millions of men to bring you blood. Allah has promised us paradise and you hell." These are the words of Hichamy and Aalla pronounced in Spanish and Arabic (translated by an interpreter at the trial). But then they address the Mossos in Catalan: "You will regret having been born. Especially you, Mossos d'Esquadra. You bastards. You' don0't even know the trouble you're getting into," says Hichamy with a mocking tone that he keeps up all the time.
"The Muslim has dignity and strength with the power of God," says Aalla. In another video, Abouyaaqoub, with a belt of explosives in front of him, says: "This, brothers, costs nothing to do. It just takes faith in Allah and huge hatred. The budget does not exceed 15 or 20 euros". "And it does a lot of damage," Houli adds with a laugh. Then Hichamy shows a hand grenade "improvised but doing its job". Hichamy adds: "I don't know how much each one's budget is," because he's proud of having taken this material from the company where he works. In other images, Abouyaaqoub wears a belt of explosives and laughs with comments like "Boom" or "It suits you".
The videos were played when the trial had just begun, a few minutes after 10 a.m. The start of the trial was a bit bumpy, because the judge presiding over the court, Alfonso Guevara, had to change chairs after the lawyer of one of the accused said that he did not want to be next to the Prosecutor's Office, which was the place where he had to sit. This caused a tug-of-war between the judge and the lawyer. Guevara also raised his voice - "No one has the floor", he repeated - to prevent the lawyers from raising previous issues. The judge wanted to get to the point and immediately called the defendants to testify from the glass cubicle that separates them from the courtroom where the trial can be followed. The three only answered their own lawyers' questions.
"I have always testified and even once voluntarily," said Houli, who referred to his previous statements in the pre-trial phase. He added that he had "always" shown his willingness to cooperate and his regret. It is at this point that the Prosecutor's Office has requested that the videos and also the photos showing the terrorists preparing the explosives in Alcanar be shown. Houli's lawyer then asked him some questions, which he answered in an attempt to disassociate himself from the Ripoll cell, but finally he insisted that he did not want to testify any more.
The two other defendants in the trial - Driss Oukabir, who allegedly backed out at the last moment, and Saïd ben Iazza, who allegedly facilitated the purchase of explosives - only answered the questions of their lawyers. Oukabir has disassociated himself from the Ripoll cell and has maintained that he gave his documentation to rent the vans because he had been told that they wanted to make a move. Iazza said he only knew the members of the terrorist group "as customers" and that they told him they needed his van to buy "cleaning products". The officer that led the police investigation into the attacks gave his statement.