A Brief History
On August 17, 2017, the great Catalonian city of Barcelona, Spain, was the scene of a mass murder perpetrated by Islamic extremist terrorists, and firearms were not the primary weapon that killed 16 innocent victims. The primary weapon used in the terror attacks was the motor vehicle as driven into pedestrians, a deadly weapon in the wrong hands.
This outrage was committed by a terrorist group of 8 Islamic extremists and conducted in Barcelona, a major city of 1.6 million people, with a metropolitan area population of over 5 million. (Note: The author has been to Barcelona and found the city to be a wonderful place to visit, one of the great cities in the world.) As we have said repeatedly in prior articles, getting rid of guns does NOT guarantee public safety, as determined killers will use their imagination to dream up all sorts of ways to perform their deadly intent.
The attacks were planned to include assaults by motor vehicle and placing bombs around town to blow up innocent civilians. The way the series of attacks went down started with the explosion of a bomb on August 16, 2017, in a house used by 2 of the terrorists who were assembling a bomb or bombs, killing both terrorists. One of the terrorists accidentally killed in the explosion was an Imam, age 40, that was believed to be the “mastermind” of the attacks. (Some “man of God!”) That same location was the scene of a second explosion when a government backhoe accidentally triggered another explosion while clearing the scene, injuring 9 more people. On August 17, 2017, at nearly 5 pm local time, the terror attacks commenced with the driving of a rented Fiat Talento van (similar to the Ford and Chevy vans Americans are familiar with) into a crowd of people on La Rambla (also known as Las Ramblas, the main street in Barcelona), continuing down the street in a series of maneuvers to run over pedestrians and cyclists. When the airbag on the van deployed, the motor instantly shut down, causing the terrorist driver to exit the van and hijack a car, stabbing the driver to death in the process. The hijacked car was later driven into a police barricade about 2 hours after the Rambla attack, injuring a police officer. The driver fled on foot, leaving the dead car owner behind in the car. At 1 am local time on August 18, 2017, 5 of the terrorists drove an Audi A3 into a crowd of people but managed to flip their car in the process. Exiting the vehicle, the terrorists proceeded to stab and slash victims, killing 2 of them. All 5 terrorists were shot by a police officer on the scene, and 4 of them died on the scene while the 5th died hours later at a hospital. (This is a prime example of why we have police and why they are armed, and why we are glad of both facts!) On August 21, 2017, an alert citizen spotted the remaining living terrorist and reported the sighting to police, who responded and killed the terror suspect in a subsequent shoot out. The terrorist had been the driver of the van in the La Rambla attack and was wearing an explosive belt when killed.
Casualties in the murder spree at the hands of the 8 terrorists included 16 innocent victims killed along with all 8 terrorists dead. A stunning number of 152 other innocent people and police officers had been injured. Among the many killed and injured were an incredible array of nationalities, largely tourists, about 3 dozen total nationalities among the killed and injured. Among just those killed, 9 separate nationalities were represented and of those victims killed 11 were foreigners (non-Spaniards). All of the terrorists involved in the Barcelona attacks were natives of Morocco. Police made 4 other arrests of people suspected of involvement in the terror plot. ISIL (or ISIS), the Islamic jihadist extremist militant group fighting in Syria and Iraq claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they were targeting those nations that were taking part in the war against the “Islamic State.” (ISIL= Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, ISIS= Islamic State in Iraq and Syria)
Terrorists and mass murderers have and continue to use religion as an excuse for their deadly mission and use all sorts of available means to carry out their attacks. While the anti-ISIL coalition of nations has greatly eroded the threat of ISIL in the Iraq-Syria theater, ISIL remains a terrorist threat to both Middle Eastern and Western countries. We wonder, what can religious leaders do to discourage the faithful from committing heinous acts of murder and terror?
Question for students (and subscribers): What do you think religious leaders should do to prevent their followers from committing acts of terror? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Bhowmik, Rajub. ISIS and ISIL: Terrorizing The World. Independently published, 2019.
Fanton Publishers. ISIS/ISIL: The Rise and Rise of the Islamic State: A Comprehensive Guide on ISIS & ISIL. Fanton Publishers, 2015.
The featured image in this article, a photograph of The King of Spain going to lay a wreath with the President of Catalonia and the Mayor of Barcelona, was published on the website of the Generalitat de Catalunya at gencat.cat. The legal notice permits the reproduction, distribution and public communication of the work and, furthermore, the transformation of the work in order to make derived works, for everyone and without time limits, and provided that it does not contradict any license or notice that a work may hold.