While the events following the terrorist attacks in and near Barcelona are still unfolding, it is evident that the two incidents were meticulously planned and deliberately meant to bring terror, injury and death to as many people as possible. Our thoughts and prayers are offered to the families and friends of all those who died in the van attack on Las Ramblas in the centre of Barcelona, and in a second attack in nearby Cambrils, where Spanish police killed five attackers, apparently wearing fake suicide belts.
It is hard to fathom the mindset of those who deliberately set out to kill and maim so many innocent people, choosing to use a vehicle as a weapon to inflict death and injury. For security forces across Europe — there have been similar vehicle attacks in Nice, Stockholm, Berlin and London — there seems to be little that can be done to thwart terrorists from mowing down civilians on the street. There is a duty now upon us all to remain vigilant and on the guard when visiting large cities across Europe. We must still go about our daily businesses, visiting tourist destinations, but we must do so with our eyes and ears open, aware that there is remote potentiality that such an attack can possibly happen anywhere. Knowing what to do in such an event is critical — and we all must keep alert to any suspicious behaviour that needs to be passed on to security services.
While Daesh (the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) has claimed responsibility for Thursday’s strikes in Catalonia, those who carried out these heinous attacks did so motivated by wilful hate and blind rage. They are criminals of the lowest order who mistakenly believe that their faith forgives their actions. Islam is a faith of peace, of respect and of love for all. It does not condone murderous acts, does not turn a blind eye to spreading terror, and most certainly does not abide by the belief that it is somehow right to deliberately drive a van through terrified tourists as they enjoy an afternoon admiring the best that Barcelona has to offer.
Thursday’s attack reminds us that there are those who are willing to pursue their twisted and evil machinations through any means. These people are inspired and misguided by those who disseminate hate, spread extremism, give voice to propaganda and write cheques for terrorist causes. And that’s why nations, persons, charities and media outlets that support extremism and terror need to be isolated, ostracised and excised.