A van veered onto a promenade and barreled down the busy walkway in central Barcelona on Thursday, swerving back and forth as it mowed down pedestrians and turned a picturesque tourist destination into a bloody killing zone. Thirteen people were killed and 100 were injured, 15 of them seriously, in what authorities called a terror attack.
The late afternoon attack in the city’s Las Ramblas district left victims sprawled in the historic street, spattered with blood or writhing in pain from broken limbs. Others were ushered inside shops by officers with their guns drawn or fled in panic, screaming and carrying young children in their arms.
“It was clearly a terror attack, intended to kill as many people as possible,” Josep Lluis Trapero, a senior police official for Spain’s Catalonia region told reporters late Thursday.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility, saying in a statement on its Aamaq news agency that the attack was carried out by “soldiers of the Islamic State” in response to the extremist group’s calls for followers to target countries participating in the coalition trying to drive it from Syria and Iraq.
The sobering reality is attacks via vehicle are becoming all too commonplace with very little recourse to eradicate them. Think about it. How often do people just carry on with the mundane business of the day, walking down a city sidewalk while scores of cars drive by? It only takes one vehicle to jump a sidewalk and kill or severely injure a significant number of people.
On a separate note, some media members couldn't help themselves by invoking a similar act from Charlottesville, VA over the weekend.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer suggested that the terrorists who carried out the attack were copycats of the violence in Charlottesville, where a woman was killed when a car driven by a white supremacist plowed into a crowd of protesters who were marching in opposition to white supremacist rally in the Virginia city.
“There will be questions about copycats, questions about if not what happened in Barcelona was at all, at all, a copycat version of what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia,” Blitzer said. “Even though they may be different characters and different political ambitions, they used the same killing device — a vehicle going at high speed — into a group, a large group, of pedestrians.”
The insinuation seemed to be that the Barcelona terrorists took a page out of an incident at Saturday's "Unite the Right" rally. You would think a longtime media veteran like Blitzer would realize this has been the M.O. of radical Islamists long before this past weekend. Heck, the year 2017 alone provided more than enough examples.
Vehicle terror attacks in Europe, 2017:— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) August 17, 2017
That doesn't even include the July 2016 attack in Nice, France where a cargo truck killed 86 people and injured more than 400 others.
Look, what James Fields (the Charlottesville driver) did was beyond despicable and thus he will likely never see the light of day again. But to suggest that his actions in any way influenced the horrific incident in Barcelona is at best being ignorant of past terroist actions and at worst displaying utter stupidity.