The responses from world leaders, including President Trump, were swift and appropriate following a terrorist attack in the beautiful Spanish city of Barcelona and the seaside resort of Cambrils. The death toll initially was 13 in both attacks with many more wounded, but a number of people – 80 was an early estimate – were seriously wounded and the number of deaths could rise. Law enforcement was quick to respond with arrests, but Spain and the world were horrified. The attack on Thursday afternoon was the most deadly since 2004, when al-Qaida bombers, or those following the way of al-Qaida, killed 193 people on commuter trains in Madrid.
A van ran over people on a sidewalk in the city’s famous Las Ramblas district. Police acted quickly to evacuate and protect people.
And the world’s leaders spoke swiftly: President Trump wrote, “The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough & strong, we love you!” Rex Tillerson, secretary of state, said, “Terrorists around the world should know that the United States and our allies are resolved to find you and bring you to justice.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May said her country “stands with Spain” and French President Emmanuel Macron (also, like Trump, on Twitter) wrote, “All my thoughts and solidarity from France for the victims of the tragic attack in Barcelona. We will remain united and determined.”
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The horror of the attacks was plain for the world to see, with victims bleeding on the street in the city in northeastern Spain. And there was panic in the eyes of survivors, who knew how close they might have come to dying in those few minutes.
That the world’s leaders reacted quickly was important, for terrorists, while not interested in reason or humanity, do understand power. They should know – perhaps it’s wishful thinking to believe they would, but one hopes not – that a world united against them will prevail, and that with each attack the resolve of the world grows ever stronger.
For the differences that may divide countries around the globe shrink in importance with the realization that terrorists don’t care for political philosophy or diplomatic differences. They care only to disrupt the civilized world and leave as much death and destruction in their wake as possible.
That destruction is frightening; it is profoundly disturbing. But from such an attack will come a world pulling together and learning to put aside other policy differences to focus on finding and punishing and stopping terrorists who mean harm to innocent people.
These actions cannot stand, and they will not. The forces of terror are crazy and vicious and deceptive. But the world united against them is determined and strong and mighty and will prevail, no matter how invincible terrorists may believe they are. For, they are not.