Horrors like Barcelona – and similar attacks elsewhere in Europe this year – not only disturb me, they confuse me because I don’t know what the Islamic terrorists are trying to achieve. This isn’t the same as the terror attacks by the IRA and the Basque Separatists. They had a simple objective: they wanted independence from what they saw as an occupying foreign power.
Islamic terrorists, on the other hand, must know that they are never going to achieve territory or influence by murdering innocent civilians in Europe. It makes them visible, certainly, but it only serves to vindicate attitudes of prejudice and intolerance towards Muslims in the minds of the bigoted.
So what is the aim, exactly? This is important because Tillerson can spout all he likes about ‘bringing them to justice,’ but it won’t stop the horrors happening. To do that you have to understand why it’s happening, and then set about addressing the cause. What politicians mostly do in these circumstances is address the popular hunger for revenge, and it won’t work.
It makes me wonder – just wonder, that’s all – whether there is something behind these outrages that we don’t know about. And I suppose I’d better stop there.