The terrorist attacks in Spain have shown that ISIS is able to spread through the power of its ideology, Richard Burchill, Director of Research and Engagement at the TRENDS Research & Advisory, told valdaiclub.com in an overview.
Fifteen people were killed, not including the attackers, and over 130 were injured, after ISIS-aligned terrorists rammed cars into pedestrians in Barcelona and Cambrils, and then attacked them with knives. In addition, an accidental explosion of gas cylinders took place in the town of Alcanar on August 16, where the attackers were believed to be based.
“The geographical extent of attacks does appear to be spreading. I do not believe this is due to any strategic organisation by Daesh or others. Rather it demonstrates the power of the ideology that these and other extremist groups are selling,” Burchill said.
According to Burchill, the random nature of the attacks is a great concern, as the terrorist group is able to manipulate religious tenets to inspire individuals to commit attacks in its name.
Why the Terrorist Attack in Spain Will Not Be the Last
After the incidents in the UK and Sweden for several months there were no large-scale terrorist attacks in Europe, and this period can be considered a relative success. However, ISIS did not stop terrorist activities in Europe: in its statements it constantly threatened Europe with new acts of terrorism.
“Through the manipulation and politicisation of certain religious tenets, extremist organisations are able to exploit individuals and inspire violent attacks. What is more of a concern is the random nature of attacks and we will have no idea where the next attack may occur,” he added.
Burchill also noted that the terrorist group could be using the historical connection of Spain to the Umayyad Caliphate in the eighth century. Although this is an unrealistic idea to rally behind, it is possible that the group used it to inspire the attackers.
“The area of Spain is being exploited by Daesh due to the historical connection. Again, the issue is the politicisation of religion with claims that since the Caliphate was in Spain once it can be returned there. This is a wholly unrealistic scenario but the manipulation of ideas can be used to inspire violence,” Burchill concluded.