The start of the trial of the Barcelona and Cambrils islamist terror attacks in August 2017 has taken us back to the beginning of the most tense three-month period in Catalonia’s recent history. The well-established ties of the mastermind behind the attacks, Imam Abdelbaki es-Satty, with Spain’s intelligence service is still the source of questions, as we recall that the 17 August attacks were staged less than six weeks before Catalonia’s independence vote on 1 October.
Three years after the terrorist outrage, one political conclusion is increasingly clear: the response by the Catalan police, the Mossos d’Esquadra, won them greater respect and international recognition and defined them as a force that protects because, when necessary, it will locate, aim and shoot. There is no more definitive expression of public power than the legal use of a firearm. The Spanish State had a great chance to tell the world that its de-centralised model worked but, far from that, it reacted as if it had lost a monopoly to the least desirable bidder.