Spain: A Sacristan Killed and a Priest Gravely Injured by a Jihadist

January 30, 2023
Nuestra Señora de La Palma church and Plaza Alta square in Algeciras

One dead and four injured (one seriously) is the toll of a jihadist attack that on Wednesday afternoon targeted at least two churches in Algeciras, Andalusia, at the southern end of Spain. The assailant shouted “death to Christians” during his attack. He has been arrested.

Although the investigation is ongoing, many elements point to an act provoked by a man imbued with the spirit of jihad. The Audiencia Nacional considers what happened to be a terrorist attack. The Audiencia Nacional is a Spanish court with national jurisdiction that is headquartered in Madrid.

On Wednesday, January 25, 2023, around 5:20 p.m., Yasin Kanza, aged 25, of Moroccan origin and awaiting exportation, entered the church of San Isidro, to call the faithful who were there to convert to Islam. He then withdrew, only to return 45 minutes later.

He then started beating holy pictures with a machete. The parish priest, Fr. Antonio Rodriguez, tried to kick him out. But once outside the Church, the assassin turned on him and struck him on the neck. Fr. Rodriguez is now in serious condition in hospital.

According to eyewitnesses to the incident, the man entered the Church of Our Lady of La Palma screaming, as the Mass ended, around 7:30 p.m. He walked around the church throwing pictures, crosses and candles to the ground with his machete, and even climbed onto the church's main altar.

The sacristan, Diego Valencia, ordered him to leave the church. The man came out through the sacristy and threatened two women who were present, and again the sacristan urged him to leave. The murderer then turned against him, threatening him with his machete and gave him a first blow.

According to witnesses, the sacristan fled in the direction of Plaza Alta and was caught by the attacker who hit him again with his machete and struck him on the head. The police, warned by the first victims, arrived on the spot and arrested him, but only after the man had had time to enter a third church before coming out quickly.

The attacker is in police custody. The Public Ministry of the Audiencia Nacional considers this to be a presumed terrorist attack, according to sources from the Public Ministry.

Police acknowledged that the killer was under close surveillance by state security forces. The fact that he had no criminal record prevented further action being taken against him. Apparently he was awaiting deportation due to his irregular status, but this is something that happens to many immigrants in the same situation, according to El Mundo.

After his arrest, he didn't say a word, but just kept an enigmatic smile. The police are questioning his mental state.

Without anticipating the rest of the investigation, several specialized journalists have recognized the characteristics of a jihadist terrorist attack in the elements of these deadly attacks, whatever the motivations that may have been added to this basis. It is also in this direction that Spanish justice is heading. The fact of having attacked churches, pious images, the faithful, and the clergy is sufficiently characteristic of a jihadist assault.