SPAIN’s secret service (CNI) tried to place the mastermind of the Barcelona terror attacks in 2017 – Abdelbaki es Satty – as an imam in the Catalan capital, it was claimed yesterday.

However, the move was thwarted by the intelligence chief there, and the terrorist was installed as an imam in Ripoll, where he was a CNI informant.

The disclosure is the latest in a series published by the digital newspaper Publico on the links between the CNI and the man who led the jihadist cell which carried out the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils. They have led the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) to table a series of questions to the Spanish government calling for explanations about the links between intelligence and es Satty.

READ MORE: Spanish spies helped Barcelona terror attack leader become an imam

ERC wants to know why the secret services did not put an end to preparations for the attacks – in which 16 people died – before they happened, and whether a Supreme Court judge had authorised the investigation. It also wants to know why information on terrorism was withheld from the Catalan Police, Mossos d’Esquadra.

The party and Together for Catalonia (JxCat) have jointly called for Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez, defence minister Margarita Robles and Fernando Grande-Marlaska, the interior minister, to appear before parliament to answer their questions and a demand for a commission to investigate the case.

Publico said the Barcelona intelligence chief – a senior figure in the CNI – was reluctant to have an informant infiltrating jihadist groups in the area, being directly controlled from Madrid and that he wanted to control him.

The intelligence directorate knew es Satty wanted to infiltrate European terror networks by exploiting his previous jihadist contacts outside and inside prison and found the position as the imam of Ripoll, where the other terrorists responsible for the attacks were based.

In this case, the appointment was not opposed by the local intelligence boss, who was of a lower rank than his Barcelona colleague and agreed that es Satty should be controlled by national spy bosses.

A record of Moroccan-born es Satty’s previous links with jihadists was wiped to keep his radical past hidden from the Islamic community in Ripoll. It also served to prevent the Mossos discovering them when they investigated the attacks.

Es Satty became a CNI informant in 2014, three years before the attacks in exchange for his not being deported after he served four years in prison for drug trafficking.

He died in a blast in the town of Alcanar the day before the attacks when a stockpile of the terrorists’ explosives accidentally went off.