A lone terrorist who staged a knife attack on a police station in Cornellà de Llobregat (Barcelona province) was ‘suicidal’ because he knew he was gay and feared rejection from the Muslim community, according to his wife.
Abdelouahab Taib, 29, originally from Algeria but living legally on the C/ Garraf in Cornellà for many years, burst into the Mossos d’Esquadra station three streets away on the C/ Travessera in the early hours of Monday.
He was brandishing a knife described as ‘huge’ and shouting Allahu Akbar (‘God is great’) – a standard religious declaration in Islam most of the time but hijacked by DAESH extremists, who announce it just before they commit an attack or let off a suicide bomb vest.
In the ensuing struggle, the on-duty police officer was forced to shoot to kill, which has left him needing counselling.
Other than the dead terrorist, nobody was hurt.
A stringent search on Taib’s house yesterday led to neighbours being evacuated and the TEDAX explosives squad brought in as a precaution, but nothing of concern is believed to have been found.
Taib has no criminal record in Spain, although police are carrying out international checks to find out whether he had a violent history in Algeria.
The Mossos d’Esquadra say there is no evidence that he was linked to any terrorist cell or international organisation, and it is believed he was acting solo.
Interviews with his ex-wife, who was interrogated for several hours yesterday, hinted at a deeper and more personal motive for the attack than radical Islam.
The young woman, believed to be a native Spaniard – who converted to Islam when she married Taib – had left the marital home a week earlier and the couple was in the process of separation.
She said she had known for about a year that her husband was gay, and he had admitted it to her himself.
In fact, theirs was a marriage of convenience since it allowed him to stay in Spain.
Although if he had had a boyfriend legally resident in the country, Taib would have been able to marry him and remain a resident – since same-sex marriage has been enshrined in national law since 2005 – he could not have married him in a Muslim ceremony and would have been unable to live with him openly.
Taib’s wife did not reveal whether he was in a relationship with a man but said he feared he would be ostracised by his family and friends and the wider Muslim community because of his sexuality.
This made him not want to live, and he spoke often of suicide.
According to Taib’s wife, her husband was not violent by nature, and she believes he engineered the attack on the police station knowing that he would probably be shot dead.
This way, he would also be able to hide what was essentially a suicide from his family and friends, since taking one’s own life is forbidden in Islam.
It is possible the police were never truly in any danger but believed they were because of Taib’s impeccable acting and determination.