Thirteen years after the 2004 Madrid bomb attacks, Spain was again targeted by jihadist terrorists. At around 5 pm on 17 August 2017, Younes Abouyaaqoub drove a van down the Paseo de las Ramblas in Barcelona, hitting large numbers of people in the central pedestrian area of the street, from the Plaza de Cataluña to the “Pavimento Miró”. Fifteen people were killed in the attack —including two children aged 3 and 7— and another 131 were injured. The Jihadist terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack through its news agency, Amaq.
Pablo Pérez lived in Vilafranca del Penedès. He worked in a wine company in Barcelona and as a volunteer in several NGOs. His passion was football. On 17 August, Pablo was driving back to Vilafranca in his Ford Focus when an ISIS terrorist assaulted him, stabbed him and took his car. The terrorists, who were linked to the attack in Barcelona, then drove through several police checkpoints, knocking down several police officers in the process.
People close to Pablo described him as being “very active, supportive and deeply involved in volunteer associations in Vilafranca, especially in all matters related to sport”. He had travelled to several countries as an international aid worker, including Haiti. According to his aunt, Kety Villán Núñez, the Catalan police (the Mossos d’Ésquadra) initially thought that Pablo was one of the terrorists and told the family so. “We couldn’t believe it… The suffering was… terrible. The loss, the doubt, the uncertainty. We began to doubt him, but it couldn’t be true… A person like him, with such a sense of solidarity, so devoted to others, could not be a terrorist. We couldn’t believe it”.
At the time of the attack, Pablo’s family was in Benicàssim and they travelled to Barcelona in the early hours of the morning. Several hours later, the authorities confirmed that Pablo Pérez had been the victim of the attack. “We were relieved, but at the same time we felt guilty for having doubted him. We cannot forgive them for making us doubt him like that,” said Kety.