Saturday, January 18th | 22 Tevet 5780

August 18, 2017 11:49 am

Barcelona Is Not Charlottesville

avatar by Ruthie Blum


A moment of silence in Barcelona on Friday. Photo: KRLS via Wikimedia Commons.

Last weekend’s car-ramming in Charlottesville, Virginia immediately became upstaged on ‎Thursday when scores of people were mown down by a speeding van on a bustling street in ‎Barcelona. The terrorist attack in Spain, on a packed tourist promenade, not only claimed the ‎lives of many innocent people, but served as a bloody reminder of what Islamic State terrorists ‎have been up to while Americans continued to scream about the ostensible rise of neo-Nazism in ‎the United States, and bicker over the question of whether President Donald Trump has been ‎encouraging white supremacism and antisemitism.‎

According to unfolding reports in the Spanish and international press, at least 14 tourists and ‎locals were killed, and another 100 were injured, when they were run over ‎by a van plowing down the iconic Las Ramblas thoroughfare. The vehicle was rented by 28-year-‎old Driss Oukabir, a Moroccan with a Spanish passport. When his photo was released after the ‎attack, however, Oukabir entered a nearby police station to declare that his documents had been ‎stolen, perhaps by his 18-year-old brother.‎

Nevertheless, according to Spanish media reports, Oukabir’s Facebook page included a video ‎about a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world and angry posts about the metal detectors that ‎had been placed on — and removed from — the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the site of the July 14 ‎terrorist attack outside of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The page has since been deleted.‎

While the details of two suspects in custody and a third who apparently committed suicide were ‎being investigated and sorted out, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the carnage. This may have ‎included one death in a possibly related accidental explosion on Wednesday night of a house that ‎served as a makeshift bomb factory or storage facility, full of propane gas tanks. It is now ‎believed that the canisters were intended for the van, which would have made Thursday’s attack ‎even more lethal. ‎

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The pattern is a familiar one by now, particularly in European capitals. ISIS, which is being ‎pushed back in Syria and Iraq, is increasing its calls on sympathizers residing in the West to go ‎out and kill “infidels.” After conducting a cost-benefit analysis, the terrorist group realized that it ‎was no longer worth it for would-be jihadists to travel to the Middle East to be trained and then ‎return to their countries to commit random slaughter; they can simply, and more cheaply, stay ‎home and do it on their own, with a little help from instructional videos from more experienced ‎killers.‎

The November 2016 issue of the Islamic State publication Rumiyah outlined the advantages of ‎car-ramming, for example. “Though being an essential part of modern life, very few actually ‎comprehend the deadly and destructive capability of the motor vehicle and its capacity of ‎reaping large numbers of casualties if used in a premeditated manner,” it stated. No kidding.‎

It is interesting to note that more recently, in February this year, a British government report ‎revealed that last summer ISIS began recruiting Spanish-speakers and translators to spread the ‎jihadist message and issue “direct threats” on tourist hot spots in Spain. The Barcelona massacre, ‎then, could have been predicted. At the very least, it should have been anticipated.‎

Indeed, with ISIS openly using the web — promoting jihad through its online magazine in several ‎languages, and through Telegram, a network with more than 100 million active users — it is ‎unbelievable that European security forces are caught off guard with each new Islamist ‎bloodbath. ‎

It is not surprising at all, however, that Trump’s statement of solidarity with Barcelona and ‎condemnation of the terrorists would be ridiculed, and not only by the liberal media. French ‎President Emmanuel Macron took the opportunity of the van-ramming to tweet: “We stand ‎beside those who fight racism and xenophobia. It is our common fight, in past and present. ‎‎#Charlottesville.” ‎

Even in the midst of defeat on the battlefield, ISIS fighters paused to have a good laugh.‎

Ruthie Blum is an editor at the Gatestone Institute.

This piece first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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