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Van Driver Hits Pedestrians in Barcelona, Killing at Least 12 in Terror Attack

August 17, 2017
By

In the past year, the Islamic State has devoted resources to translating their channels and messages into Spanish.

Although countries like France and Britain have repeatedly been named in Islamic State propaganda urging followers to plan and stage attacks, Spain has been less in the cross hairs.

The country has, however, been a transit point for recruits of the militant group, both for those going to Syria and those returning. The Spanish police arrested nine people in April who they said may have been connected with deadly attacks in France and Spain.

The attack appeared to follow the playbook of recent assaults in which attackers drove vehicles into crowded stretches of large European cities.

“While it’s not clear whether the attackers corresponded with ISIS prior to the operation, it’s clear that the methods used in the attack is something ISIS encouraged and incited over and again,” said Laith Alkhouri, a director in New York of the business-risk intelligence company Flashpoint, which tracks militant threats and cyberthreats.

A Facebook user called Allberth SaLcer posted a video that shows injured people lying on the ground near Las Ramblas.

In the French resort city of Nice, a man drove a rental truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day on the seaside Promenade des Anglais last year, killing 86 people.

A few days before Christmas last year, a driver in a stolen van mowed down unsuspecting shoppers at a holiday market in Berlin, killing 12 people and wounding dozens.

At least seven civilians were killed and dozens injured in June when knife-wielding assailants sped across London Bridge in a white van, ramming numerous pedestrians before emerging with large hunting knives to attack the capital’s Borough Market, a crowded nightspot.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility, saying the attack had been carried out by “a detachment of Islamic State fighters.”

That attack was reminiscent of another, on Westminster Bridge in London on March 22, when Khalid Masood, 52, drove a car into pedestrians, killing four people.


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He then stabbed a police officer to death near Parliament before himself being shot and killed. The police treated that attack, in which 50 were injured, as “Islamist-related terrorism.”

There have been other deadly attacks using vehicles that were not related to Islamist extremists. A British man rammed a rental van into a congregation of Muslims leaving prayers in North London during Ramadan, and a man who was part of white supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va., drove his car into a crowd on Saturday, killing a woman.

In March 2004, a series of bombs ripped through commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people and wounding more than 1,800. The bombings were carried out by a group of North African Islamists that intersected with a band of petty criminals.

The leaders of European countries and cities whose countries have suffered attacks quickly expressed their support and solidarity with Barcelona.

In Germany, which is on alert for remains wary of potential terrorist threats weeks before the general election on Sept. 24, members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet expressed their solidarity with the Spanish people, following the news from Barcelona.

“I am deeply shaken by the terrible news from Barcelona,” said Thomas de Maizière, the country’s interior minister. “Once again, terror has shown its grotesque face.”

Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, said on Twitter that Barcelona and Paris “are cities of sharing, love and tolerance. Such values are stronger than this despicable and cowardly terrorism. Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said his city “stands with Barcelona against the evil of terrorism.”

Reporting was contributed by Eric Schmitt, Yonette Joseph, Raphael Minder and Mark Walsh.


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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/17/world/europe/barcelona-catalunya-van.html

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