The photos of Younes Abouyaaqoub, the driver of the attack on the Rambla, and above all of Mohamed Hichamy, who led the attack in Cambrils, are those identified by several employees of companies that sell chemical products in Catalonia when they were asked to identify who had gone to buy tens of litres of hydrogen peroxide or acetone. In the weeks before the attacks, the terrorists visited at least five establishments, according to witnesses who testified in the trial. But they presented different identities, and the arguments to justify the purchases also varied: they said they needed the peroxide to bleach clothes and the acetone to clean wood, iron or other metals. They did not create any alarm in the shop assistants, some of whom added that they spoke in Catalan and that the treatment had been "very polite".
In the tenth session of the trial, it has been stated that the first purchase attempt was on July 11, 2017 in Tortosa. That day a boy who could not be identified himself with the photos of the terrorists tried to buy 100 litres of hydrogen peroxide but the ID he gave in a loud voice was wrong: the letters did not match the numbers. It was also unclear to him which vehicle he would use to transport them, which is necessary because he had to fill out a form detailing the origin and destination address in order to acquire the substance. In addition, it seemed that he was on foot, a fact that surprised the workers. The next day another boy came back who also wanted 100 liters to sell in Morocco to launder clothes. When he showed the documentation, it said Saïd ben Iazza and the company linked him to the one from the previous day, because he also wanted to buy without VAT.
On 27 July, the boy who identified himself with Ben Iazza's documentation returned, accompanied by another boy. At that time they already had his details and bought 240 litres of hydrogen peroxide. In both cases, they registered an address in Vinaròs, while the first attempt to buy - which did not succeed - had an address in Tarragona. But after the attacks, when the police showed the shop assistants the photos of the terrorists, it was revealed that they had used a false identity: they pointed out Abouyaaqoub as the one who had pretended to be Ben Iazza and Hichamy as the companion. Now Ben Iazza is one of the three accused in the trial for having facilitated the purchase of material to make explosives and collaborated with the jihadist cell.
All the available acetone
Another witness was a worker from another company in Tortosa who on August 2 sold all the acetone in the establishment, 50 liters, to a boy who said he needed it to clean wood. The boy asked if they would have more before August 15 but did not return. With the police photos, the shopkeeper identified Hichamy. He is the same boy pointed out by a worker from a company in Gurb who on July 25 attended to him when he asked if they had acetone. He returned the next day, when he argued that he wanted it to degrease parts and that he would need more by the end of August. He did not ask for an invoice and took 175 litres. Seeing the photos of the terrorists, the shop assistant also realised that on 18 Julyhe had sold Saïd Aalla, the driver of the car in the Cambrils attack, a jerry-can of acetone.
The procedure was repeated with the employees of another company in the Baix Ebre at the beginning of August. First they sold Hichamy 25 litres and another day all the acetone they had, 125 litres more. He told them that he wanted more but did not return either. Another purchase was in Vinaròs on August 7, when Hichamy bought 100 more litres of acetone with the excuse of using it to clean iron and other metals. During their statement, some of the workers have recognised in the images of the objects recovered from the Alcanar chalet products that they had sold to the terrorists. Abouyaaqoub also bought switches and buttons on August 14 at an electronics store in Sant Carles de la Ràpita.
Three workers from pawn shops in Vinaròs, where the cell members sold jewellery, also took part in the trial. One of the shop assistants had doubts because the boy she served was not clear about whose initials the jewellery corresponded to. In fact, another of the witnesses was a neighbour from Ripoll whose jewellery was stolen in July 2017 and who runs a restaurant where Aalla had worked.