As many as eight of 12 young men named as suspects in the terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils are first- and second-generation Moroccan immigrants from the picturesque town of Ripoll, perched high in the forests at the edge of the Pyrenees, a two-hour drive on the highway from Barcelona.
Parents of the young men here told The Washington Post they fear their sons were radicalized by a visiting cleric who spent the last months praying, preaching — and possibly brainwashing gullible youngsters who spoke better Spanish than Arabic.
Others were not sure what drove the young men to such extreme violence. One assailant drove a white rented van down a crowded pedestrian boulevard in Barcelona, killing 14 and seriously wounding scores. Five others attacked police and bystanders after running a checkpoint. Two other suspects, still unidentified, were blown up in an explosion at a house being used by the cell to make a bomb, which authorities say was to be deployed in “a major attack.”