Bizarre Trump response to Barcelona

Donald Trump’s initial response to the vehicle attack in Barcelona was fairly standard for a world leader…

…except for the very American ‘we love you’ close.

But three quarters of an hour later he followed up with:

As well as being bizarre, it is bull.

From The Guardian live feed:

Donald Trump responded to the Barcelona attack be reviving an already debunked anecdote about a US general dipping bullets in pig’s blood to fight Islamic militants over a hundred years ago.

The tweet echoed a highly dubious claim Trump made at an election rally in South Carolina in February 2016, in which he talked admiringly about a counter-insurgency in the Philippines conducted by General John Pershing between 1909 and 1913, when he was governor of Moro province.

He said at the rally:

They were having terrorism problems, just like we do. And he caught 50 terrorists who did tremendous damage and killed many people. And he took the 50 terrorists, and he took 50 men and he dipped 50 bullets in pigs’ blood — you heard that, right? He took 50 bullets, and he dipped them in pigs’ blood. And he had his men load his rifles, and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the 50th person, he said: You go back to your people, and you tell them what happened. And for 25 years, there wasn’t a problem. Okay? Twenty-five years, there wasn’t a problem.

This account of Pershing’s actions has circulated on the internet since 2001, but US historians say there is very little if any evidence to support it.

As well as being bull and boorish, it further demonstrates Trump”s pig ignorance about how a world leader needs to conduct themselves.

Terrorists and potential terrorists are likely to be unaffected by his tweet, but those who can make a difference in the battle against radical Islamic terrorism are unlikely to be encouraged by Trump’s behaviour.

A conspiracy theorist is a of bit risk as supposed leader of the free world.

If Trump confines himself to unfounded claims on Twitter he may not do much damage apart from further denting US credibility, but the real risk is if he uses one of his conspiracy theories to justify military action.

Barcelona van attack

Another attack by vehicle in Europe, this time in Barcelona, Spain.

Guardian: Full report: van hits crowd in city centre

Guardian live updates: Barcelona attack: multiple deaths reported after van hits Las Ramblas crowds – latest updates

Police confirm fatalities and say they are treating incident in Spanish city as terror attack, amid local reports that armed men have entered restaurant

Local media is reporting that one person has been arrested in relation to the attack.

Separate reports said the Guardia Civil have identified the suspect thought to have hired the white Fiat van used in the attack. According to those reports, he is understood to be from north Africa but to possess a NIE, the identity document issued to foreigners who are resident in Spain.

It is not clear whether the reports referred to the same person.

A second van linked to the attack – assumed to have been used as getaway car – has been found in the small town of Vic in Catalonia.

UPDATED summary  from the Guardian:

What we know so far about the Las Ramblas terror attack