Revisiting the Barcelona Attacks: Reactions, Explanations and Pending Discussions

Revisiting the Barcelona Attacks: Reactions, Explanations and Pending Discussions

Publication date:
Moussa Bourekba, Researcher, CIDOB (Coord.)

CIDOB Report nº 2 February 2018 

The attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils on August 17th and 18th 2017 (17A) surprised various analysts and observers, not because Spain was not likely to be attacked, but because 17A in some ways was different from other recent attacks on European territory. Both the profile of the perpetrators and the reactions it produced invite us to reflect on three questions: Why did 17A happen? Who is directly and indirectly responsible for this tragedy? And, how can another one be prevented? These are questions that typically arise after a terrorist attack, but the case of 17A is different for one main reason: the fleeting nature of the debates that followed.  

Although it seems that society has turned the page, the debate on why these young men from Ripoll decided to kill innocent people remains open. The debate on radicalisation is progressing, but today no consensus exists on the prevalence of one factor over another. Recognising this methodological limitation nevertheless represents an opportunity for analysts, researchers and decision-makers: instead of resorting to uniform patterns based on previous experience, the ever more diversified and multidimensional processes of radicalisation, require the adoption of multidisciplinary approaches.  

The authors of Revisiting the Barcelona attacks: reactions, explanations and pending discussions approach the attacks and their consequences from multiple perspectives. Only then comprehensive and creative strategies can be conceived to fight a threat that, far from dissipating, remains present and in constant mutation. 


 Keywords: 17A; Barcelona and Cambrils attacks; Violent extremism; Jihadism; Radicalization

Publication content

ISSN: 2564-9086
E-ISSN: 2564-9124
D.L.: B 11821-2017