It’s just over a week since 15 people were killed in an Islamist attack in Barcelona, Spain. It appears that the person who organised the cell involved in that attack was an Imam called Abdelbaki Es Satty. In the days that have followed we have also learned that the country only narrowly avoided a far worse assault, and that the cell who were subsequently involved in a shoot-out with police had been planning to blow up a set of Spanish monuments including Antoni Gaudi’s masterpiece, the church of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
Last night there were only two attacks in Europe. In the centre of Brussels a Somali-born man shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (‘Allah is Greatest’) attacked soldiers with a machete before being shot dead. And in London, outside Buckingham Palace a man from Luton shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ was restrained by police before he was able to cause more than minor injuries to them with the machete he was carrying.
There could be any number of explanations for these attacks, as with so many attacks before them. It could be that the perpetrators suffered the famous problem of low blood-sugar levels which have been known to cause attacks of this kind in the past. Or it could be that these are simply further cases of people making their objections to Spanish, Belgian and British foreign policy clear in a more effusive manner than is normally deemed acceptable.
But the important thing to remember about these attacks is that they are just like the weather. Unlike other types of violence, these solitary events must be seen as indicative of absolutely nothing, with no further investigation into anything that might lie behind them. They are just strange eruptions which occasionally happen and have no connections to anything, anywhere or anyone.