The group of ISIS-inspired jihadists that killed 16 people and injured 140 others in a terror attack in Barcelona last year had been planning a larger, deadlier attack, experts believe.
The group went to France several times, where it recorded footage of the Eiffel Tower, The New York Times reports. It also possessed a large amount of chemicals in its safe house, as investigators later discovered.
“The existing evidence indicates the terrorist cell had planned a far more ambitious and potentially more deadly operation,” Fernando Reinares and Carola García-Calvo of the Program on Global Terrorism at the Elcano Royal Institute in Madrid wrote in a study published Wednesday.
“Considering the lethal resources assembled by the terrorists and their lethal intent, the death toll could have reached hundreds had they not accidentally blown up their bomb factory,” the report read, which was based on interviews, court proceedings, video analysis, and evidence recovered on scene.
An accidental detonation of explosive powder prompted those in the terror cell to accelerate their plans, leading to the Barcelona attack one day later. The group used a van to run down pedestrians along Las Ramblas, a highly trafficked area for locals and tourists alike.
In Paris, city leaders last year approved the construction of a bulletproof glass wall around the base of the Eiffel Tower to help prevent terrorist attacks.
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