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◆ Barcelona: What to Know about the Terror on Las Ramblas
Explanation: Barcelona is one of the great cities of Europe, with a very mixed population. It has fabulous architecture and is a particularly good city for walking, strolling, having a cup of coffee outdoors. Americans think of it as “Spanish,” but it is also the capital of the Catalan region, which has its own language and which has voted to become independent. (Madrid has resisted and, unlike the Basque separatists, those in Catalan have not be violent.)
One of Barcelona’s main spots for strolling is a pedestrian street, Las Ramblas, which runs a couple of miles from the port to a major plaza. It is next to a medieval quarter, which is also great for strolling or sitting at a cafe.
The only vehicles permitted are those delivering merchandise to the store, and those are rare (most deliveries are at night or by small carts).
A picture will help you understand the ambiance.
A Jihadist attack there was bound to kill many tourists, strike terror into the whole city, damage its vital tourist industry, and perhaps reiterate the Islamist claim that the Iberian peninsula should revert to Muslim control because, long ago, it was conquered by Islam.
Of particular concern: The fact that the attack was so well-organized and seems to be linked to a strong support network (how else could the driver have been hidden after escape? how else would a bomb factory be found in another town?)
Yes, there will be a lot of attention to the missed signals from the US to Spanish and Catalan authorities, as there should be.
There will be a lot of attention to the huge, illegal migration from North Africa to Spain, a short boat ride away from Morocco.
And there will rightly be a lot of concern about
- The sophistication of this Islamist plot
- The morphing of Islamist tactics as they lose their “caliphate” and send battle-hardened veterans back to Europe and North America to control local terror ops
- The ease of killing people on sidewalks all over the world
- If you harden one such targets, there are thousands more
- These attacks are not limited to one city or one country; they are spread across the civilized world
- The unregulated flow of North Africans and Middle Easterners into Europe
- Still supported by clueless politicians, led by Germany’s Angela Merkel
- The support network of local extremists, some of whom have lived in Europe for 2-3 generations without becoming European and accepting basic values of tolerance, peaceful contestation of grievances, and acceptance of social and religious differences
- Note that the idea of a caliphate deeply contradicts western Europe’s hard-won achievement of separating political authority from religious authority; our leaders are not our chief priests and political dissent is not apostacy, as they are in an Islamic caliphate
There should be deep concern about all of these issues.
There should be much more attention to the spread of pernicious Islamist ideologies and their support from state sponsors, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and, of course, Iran.
There should be deep concern about how to suppress the threats and how to do so without crushing the very liberties we seek to protect.