High-profile acts of terrorism similar to the those in Spain on Thursday night is effectively a new reality in the modern world, and no country can ensure enough protection against it, security experts told RT in the aftermath of the Barcelona attacks.
The terrorist attack left 13 people dead and 100 injured when a van was deliberately driven into pedestrians on La Rambla, one of Barcelona’s most popular and overcrowded boulevards. Seven people were injured in a separate attack in a town of Cambrils, 120km away.
The Barcelona carnage is yet another incident in a growing string of lone-wolf attacks that have ripped through major European cities over the past two years. Nice, Berlin, London and Stockholm have all suffered attacks of this kind, indicating that all-round security may have become a luxury in today’s world.
“People have to open their eyes – two weeks ago it was Germany, last week it was France, this week Spain. No country – we’re talking Europe but there were similar attacks elsewhere, in Maghreb, in the Middle East – can say it’s safe from such an attack today,” political analyst Nikola Mirkovic told RT.
The phenomenon is so widespread that “each month we’re discovering that this could happen in a new country, in a new place, in a new town,” Mirkovic added.
“The London Mayor Sadiq Khan said we have to get used to this, the French President Emmanuel Macron said the same thing – and unfortunately they seem to be right.
“How do you fight, how do you stop someone ramming a van or a truck into a crowd?” Mirkovic asked. “This is extremely difficult, but they do have to be prepared.”
Product of West’s wars in Middle East.
Dan Glazebrook, a British political writer, noted the new reality is very much the product of the wars the West had been waging in the Middle East.
“The UK has issued a statement they stand side by side with Spain against terror. This is not the first time the UK and Spain have stood side by side,” Glazebrook remarked.
“They stood side by side in 2003 alongside the US invasion of Iraq, and it was that invasion that unleashed this process of handing over ever largest swaths of territory to Al-Qaeda and ISIS [Islamic State or IS]… This process has continued right up to date in Libya, Syria and now, Yemen,” he added.
Migrant flows make Spain weak spot of Europe
Former MI5 intelligence officer Annie Machon said the very fact that IS has claimed responsibility for the Barcelona attack “raises the idea that Spain is also one of the key points of access to Europe now for migrants and refugees coming from the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa.”
Geographic proximity to major migration lanes “seems to have turned into a weak spot of the EU,” Machon said.
She added that terrorism could possibly become commonplace given the latest developments.
“I think this is a new reality, yes, there’s no getting away from it across Europe – this could happen anywhere.”
In addition, she said, Barcelona, which is “a boiling kettle of Catalonia,” is on its way to the landmark vote on secession from Spain. “So there are a number of political and economic issues at play here in Spain and the rest of the EU.”
Commenting on emerging reports that the suspect had already been on police’s radar, Machon said “it represents one of the general security issues at the moment in the Western world.” She added that security agencies across the world are capable of collecting intelligence on high-profile lone-wolf terrorists, but they often fail to carry out pre-emptive action.
“What they have is just big database stuff,” she said, adding the problem is rooting in the bulk of information intelligence agencies cannot process alone.
“It is no the intelligence work, but the police work.”