Terror Drives Through Las Rambla
By admin August 18, 2017

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La Rambla is often referred to in the plural (Las Ramblas) for the series of streets joined end to end. The popular destination among tourists visiting various exhibits and attractions including the Christopher Columbus monument is now a mourning site.

Earlier this week, a white delivery van drove through the crowd at Las Ramblas promenade, killing 13 people and injuring many more. The attack broke the peace of vacation for many tourists traveling during peak season. More than a hundred people representing at least 34 nationalities were hurt and Catalonia’s emergency service expects the death toll to rise. Police have arrested several suspects, but Spain’s trouble with terrorism has not dissipated. Less than a day after the Las Ramblas attack, police responded to another car attack near Cambrils, 60 miles southwest of Barcelona.

Spain had not experienced a large-scale terrorist attack since the 2004 Madrid train bombings that killed 192 people and injured 2,000. Despite 13 years of relative peace with the exception of Basque ETA perpetrated violence, authorities were preparing to counter another attack. ISIS fighters have issued threats towards Spain on social media over the last few years, and the group has Spanish language channels on messaging services used to disseminate propaganda. Spain has also been a target due t its membership of the anti-ISIS coalition led by the US that Is bombing group strongholds in Iraq and Syria. The group’s intentions to re-impose Islam in formerly Muslim-ruled areas of the world like Al-Andalus, also implicated Spanish safety. The terror threat in Spain is likely to remain elevated for an elongated period following the recent surge in attack severity.

The rest of Europe should remain in a state of heightened awareness as Barcelona recovers. Spain is just a new member of a growing list of countries experiencing similar attacks around Europe. Nice, London, Stockholm, and now Barcelona have fallen victims to car attacks endorsed by both ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

In a 2014 report, the Institute for the Study of War noted that a speech by ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani instructed supporters to harness the deadly power of automobiles stating, “If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet…Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car…” Al-Qaeda had a similar idea, referring to cars as “the ultimate mowing machine” in the second issue of its English-language magazine.

Terrorism is a dynamic phenomenon, changing rapidly with law enforcement policy and action lagging behind. While bombs, knives, and firearms are detectable in airport security and searches at public events, rocks and seemingly innocent vehicles are unsuspecting agents of terror. We must be careful not to overestimate rationality of terrorist groups (if it so exists) and take better note of erratic behavior we often brush off as “eccentric” or simply “strange.” Violence from mundane sources is hard to detect, but recent trends point to a need to be more cognizant of our environments.

Further Reading:

Where is Las Ramblas? Barcelona’s Tourist Hotspot Turned Terror Target

Barcelona searches for van driver that killed more than a dozen along iconic promenade

US Intelligence Warned Barcelona Police About Las Ramblas Threat Months Ago: Reports

Spain Terror Threat: Will Van Attack Prove to be First ISIS Strike in the European Country?

Vehicles as Weapons: Barcelona crash is part of a deadly trend

ISIS and Al Qaeda have specifically called for the type of attack that just happened in France

Thanks for sharing !

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