After ISIS-backed terrorists attacked in La Rambla in Barcelona and in Cambrils, killing 14 and injuring more than 100 people, with 12 still in a critical condition, police believe they had much more ambitious plans for the area. According to recent reports, they were planning on targeting three popular, tourist-packed sites in Barcelona, including the Sagrada Familia basilica.

Terrorists planned to use explosive-packed vans

The Local quotes Spanish news source El Español as saying terrorists were planning to drive explosive-packed vans into three of Barcelona’s most popular and crowded areas.

Apparently La Rambla was second on their list, with their prime target being the Temple de la Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudi’s still unfinished cathedral in the heart of the historic area of the city.

At any time of year the Sagrada Familia is packed with visitors, with long queues waiting outside. There is always a crowd of hundreds of visitors outside, gazing at the spires of the building and taking photographs.

La Rambla was reportedly second on the list and police believe the Port of Barcelona, where hundreds of people arrive each day on cruise ships and ferries from the Balearic Islands, might have been the next target.

What foiled the terrorists’ plans?

On Wednesday evening there was an explosion in Alcanar, 124 miles from Barcelona. Originally it was thought to have been caused by a gas leak in a home. However the explosion, which killed two and injured several more people, turned out to be something else entirely. One of the injured was later arrested after the Barcelona attack.

On investigation, police believe the explosion was caused by the mishandling of explosives intended for a multiple – and much larger – terrorist attack on Barcelona.

Head of the Catalonia police, Josep Lluis Trapero, said at a news conference Friday that the explosion in Alcanar had put a halt to their wider plans, as they no longer had the necessary material for their even more brutal plans.

Reportedly the group may have been planning to hire a larger truck, or multiple small vans, which they would pack with explosives and butane gas cylinders to cause the maximum carnage in their attacks.

Police now believe that due to the unexpected explosion in Alcanar, the terrorists had to resort to “more rudimentary” vehicle attacks in both Barcelona and Cambrils.

Juan Ignacio Zoido, Spain's Minister of the Interior, has stated the jihadist cell has now been “dismantled.” Zoido said the group was believed to consist of 12 young men, mostly Moroccan, some of which were teenagers.

However, authorities in Catalonia are taking a more cautious route. Joaquim Forn downplayed those comments by saying the investigation is not over until everyone involved in the terror cell is located and detained. As reported by El Pais in English, police are still searching for Younes Abouyaaquob, 22, who is believed to have been the driver of the van that plowed through pedestrians in the La Rambla boulevard Thursday. Initially it was thought that Moussa Oukabir, 17, was responsible, but he was found to be among the terrorists shot dead in Cambrils early on Friday.