MidEast

Spanish PM Calls Barcelona Attack “Jihadist Terrorism”

Spanish authorities continue their investigation into the car-ramming terrorist attack that killed 14 people in Barcelona on Thursday and two related events, a gas explosion in a house in Alcanar and a car attack in Cambrils, as the nation’s prime minister characterized the attack, claimed by ISIS, as “jihadist terrorism.”

Based on the complexity of the plot and how quickly ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, authorities believe that at least eight individuals may have been involved in a cell acting at the behest of the terrorist organization, The Jerusalem Post reported Friday.

Catalan government official, Joaquim Forn, told local radio that the cell likely abandoned its original plan of using a butane gas canister after encountering difficulties, and instead carried out several low-tech attacks.

The group of men planned to load a large truck with explosives to cause a catastrophic explosion and kill as many people as possible, but were unable to rent such vehicle after they failed to obtain necessary driving permits. They then decided to load two smaller vans with explosives, a plan they too had to abandon, after they failed to prepare the butane gas canister, blowing up a house in Alcanar instead. That bought them to the final scenario that eventually played out on the streets of Barcelona and Cambrils on Thursday.

It is unclear if security forces are still looking for the driver of the van in Barcelona, who escaped on foot, or if he is among the five attackers killed in a shoot-out with police on Thursday night in Cambrils, where authorities thwarted a separate attack. As of Friday morning, three people have been arrested in connection with the events.

“The priority right now is work out the identity of these people, to prove and show the relationship between the different people involved, those that took the van and those that have been able to escape,” Forn said.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy confirmed that the van attack in Barcelona was “jihadist terrorism” which he said requires a global response. “Today the fight against terrorism is the principal priority for free and open societies like ours. It is a global threat and the response has to be global,” Rajoy said at a news conference in Barcelona.

[Photo: New York Times / YouTube]