Stratfor: about the latest jihadist attack in Europe

Summary: Stratfor reports on the latest attack by ISIS in Europe. It’s a drumbeat of terror, slowly increasing, rooted in Europe’s large and rapidly growing Islamic population. So far the region’s governments have responded with traditional police and security measures. These have failed. What will they do next?

ISIS March in Syria
Taken from jihadist website on 14 Jan. 2014 showing march in Raqqa, Syria.

“Spain: Barcelona Reels From Terrorist Attacks”

Stratfor, 18 August 2017.
Editor’s notes are in brackets.

The Islamic State struck again on Aug. 17, when a van ran over people in downtown Barcelona, killing at least 13 and leaving over a hundred injured. {The Islamic State claimed responsibility.} Then in the early hours of Aug. 18, police killed five suspected terrorists after they plowed into people in the city of Cambrils, killing one person. Investigations are underway after the two terrorist attacks in Spain’s Catalonia region. Security forces have arrested four suspects, and they are trying to determine whether the driver of the Barcelona van was among them.

The attackers’ original intention was probably to conduct a large truck bombing in Barcelona. In fact, a safe-house in Alcanar (about 203 kilometers or 126 miles south of Barcelona) exploded on Aug. 16 while at least two people were making the explosives for vehicle bombs. {The explosion killed a woman and injured six other people. An explosion while clearing debris injured several more people. There were over a hundred butane gas containers. Details here.}

The vehicular assaults were deadly, but the bomb attack could have potentially been far more damaging. This was also the largest cell of Islamic State operatives in Europe since the attacks in Paris and Brussels in late 2015 and early 2016. Given the resources they expended in this plot, it seems likely the attackers received financial support from the Islamic State. {This is a guess. Perhaps they stole the money.}

Terrorism

The attacks took place during the peak of Spain’s summer season and in one of the most important tourism destinations in the world. The location of the Barcelona attack, the popular Rambla pedestrian street, suggests that the attackers sought a high number of causalities. People from more than 30 nationalities were killed or injured in the attack. German, Belgian, Italian and Portuguese nationals were reported among the dead, along with a few Spanish nationals.

According to the Spanish media, security forces arrested four men of Moroccan descent, all of whom resided in Catalonia. Spain has not seen the same levels of anti-immigration sentiment that has developed in other European nations. However, Spain has seen an increase in the arrival of migrants from sub-Saharan African countries in recent weeks. According to the United Nations, almost 10,000 migrants have arrived in Spain by sea since the start of the year, three times as many as the previous year.

Should the trend continue, Spain may push for better controls on the European Union’s external borders and join the likes of Italy and Greece in demanding a redesign of the EU’s migration rules, according to which asylum seekers should make their applications in the country of first entry to the bloc.

The terrorist attacks occurred against the backdrop of a complex political situation in Spain. The Catalan government plans to hold an independence referendum on Oct. 1, a proposal that the central government in Madrid rejects. The Spanish government considers the referendum illegal and has said it will not let it happen. On Aug. 18, Catalan regional President Carles Puidgemont warned against using the terrorist attacks for political gain and declared that recent events will not affect the “independence road map.” While the central and regional governments will probably tone down their heated rhetoric for a few days out of respect for the victims, bilateral frictions will probably return soon after.

Spain: Barcelona Reels From Terrorist Attacks
is republished with permission of Stratfor.

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8 thoughts on “Stratfor: about the latest jihadist attack in Europe

  1. I wonder if this rash of vehicular terrorism and slaughter is going to be a booster for autonomous driving technologies. I don’t know if that would actually be more secure, of course, though it would probably raise another obstacle and would possibly prevent impulsive acts such as in C’ville.

  2. It seems ISIS is well versed in Asymmetric Warfare. Perhaps they are also students of 4GW.

    Reading the Guardian article, the evidence is clear. The Spaniards, French, Heck! The EU is clueless on the subject. All these “quiet, well behaved” terrorists are operating in plain sight, “on the RADAR” and no one notices or seems to care.

    Apparently, they have no Situational Awareness!

    1. Longtail,

      “It seems ISIS is well versed in Asymmetric Warfare. Perhaps they are also students of 4GW.”

      ‘Asymmetric warfare’ and ‘4GW’ are western military terms about tactics brought to maturity by Mao during and after WWII. Insurgents don’t need us to explain them.

      “All these “quiet, well behaved” terrorists are operating in plain sight,”

      I don’t believe that’s a useful way to frame this. These are regular people (i.e., regular Muslims), and so are invisible to police and security services. Identifying them probably requires Stasi-level surveillance.

  3. FM

    Points taken but the Guardian article stated LE was already suspicious but suspected drug activity. The article also stated the neighbors were not concerned. I find that sad considering the state if affairs in EU.

    The reason STASI level of surveillance may become the order of the day is the overwhelming number of Muslims in EU bent on Jihad plus the impressionable and weak minded who can be coerced.

    I did a census check on USA to see percentages of Muslims and Hebrews. Each Faith represents less than 1% of our overall population.

    Why is the General Public so afraid? Perhaps it’s because they are ignorant and conditioned to be by the Terrorists and Media.

    1. Longtrail,

      “LE was already suspicious but suspected drug activity.”

      They — and us — could triple the number of police and not follow every lead of drug activity.

      “The reason STASI level of surveillance may become the order of the day”

      As I said in the summary, the question of the day is — what will Europe do when they realize that conventional policing cannot reduce (or perhaps even stabilize) the level of Muslin terrorism?

      “Why is the General Public so afraid? ”

      Why are they afraid in Europe? First, what is the evidence that they are “so afraid”? Go by people’s actions, not click-hungry journalists’ headlines. The people are worried, but not demonstrating outside government buildings for stronger action. I don’t believe this is even — yet — a major issue in elections.

      Should they be more afraid? IMO, yes. This seems likely to become a more serious problem. Islam’s tradition is one of conquest by minorities.

      “I did a census check on USA to see percentages of Muslims and Hebrews.”

      a) Why are you looking at both? Is there a problem with “Hebrew terrorism”?

      b) Comparing minorities in the US and EU misses a key point. US culture is the universal solvent. Europe has demonstrated a far less ability to assimilate minorities. After a thousand years they never assimilated — or even reconciled themselves — to a few Jews in their midst.

  4. FM

    Points taken but the Guardian article stated LE was already suspicious but suspected drug activity. The article also stated the neighbors were not concerned. I find that sad considering the state if affairs in EU.

    The reason STASI level of surveillance may become the order of the day in Europe is the overwhelming number of Muslims in the EU bent on violent Jihad, plus the impressionable and weak minded who can be coerced. Of course, if it came to that, the EU is beaten, lost. It’s a long way from that and maybe, hopefully, I am completely off base.

    I did a census check on USA to see percentages of Muslims and Hebrews. Each Faith represents less than 1% of our overall population.

    Why is the General Public so afraid? Perhaps it’s because they are ignorant and conditioned to be by the Terrorists and Media.

    I shall read your other links on the subject. Right now I’m very interested in your previous post so I am going there.

  5. Oh FM, I’m sorry. I didn’t see your reply and posted a “refined” comment. Your argument is dead on the money. Thanks for getting me on balance, Sir.

    Truly, I’m the student and you are the Master. I appreciate your wisdom very much.

    Best regards,

    lt

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