Van Driver in Barcelona Attack Is Killed by Police

SUBIRATS, Spain — The fugitive believed to have driven the van in last week’s terrorist attacks in Spain was shot dead by the police on Monday in a village outside Barcelona after a Europeanwide dragnet, the police announced.

The fugitive, Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22, used a van to mow down a crowd on Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s central boulevard, last Thursday, killing 13 people, according to the police. He then stole a car, killed its driver and made his getaway with the driver’s body still inside.

A manhunt stretching across Europe was undertaken, and France, Italy and other countries tightened security and border controls amid widespread speculation that Mr. Abouyaaqoub might have fled Spain. Over the weekend, the authorities had said they could not be certain that he was still on Spanish soil.

But at 4:10 p.m. Monday, attention quickly turned to Subirats, a collection of villages about 20 miles west of Barcelona. The town was placed on lockdown as the authorities announced that a man wearing an explosive belt had been “shot down.”

The identity of the suspect was not clear for about two hours; a robot, operated by a police bomb squad, was going through the explosive device to ensure that there was no danger. But at 6:20 p.m., the police announcedthat the man who had been shot was indeed Mr. Abouyaaqoub.

Residents of Subirats appeared frightened but unharmed.

“They told us to keep inside, to be ready for anything,” Pere Pons, the mayor of Subirats, told Catalan radio. “A little while ago the police called us to stay in our houses. To keep calm, to wait for more police to arrive.”

He added: “The entire town is surrounded by police.”

The police operation was continuing, however, amid reports that the fugitive may have had an accomplice during his flight and that the police were inspecting an abandoned van. The authorities in Sant Sadurní, another town west of Barcelona, issued a message on Twitter warning residents of a police intervention and urging them to remain calm.

The death toll from the attacks rose to 15 on Monday. In addition to the 13 people killed in the van attack in Barcelona, a 14th person died hours later in a related attack in the town of Cambrils, and the police on Monday announced a 15th victim: the driver of the car that Mr. Abouyaaqoub stole and used to make his escape.

The attacks were Spain’s deadliest terrorist assault since 2004, when terrorists bombed commuter trains in Madrid, killing 192 people.

Also on Monday, the authorities said that an imam believed to have inspired the twin attacks had almost certainly died on Wednesday when a house that the terrorists used as a bomb factory blew up — an event that appears to have precipitated the attacks.

The imam, Abdelbaki Essati, preached in the town of Ripoll, home to many of the members of the terrorist cell, which the authorities say included at least 12 people.

Investigators believe the planning for the plot may have begun not long after Mr. Essati’s arrival, a year ago, at the second of two mosques where he worked in Ripoll.

Younes AbouyaaqoubCreditSpanish Interior Ministry, via Associated Press

The remains of two people were found at the house where the explosion took place, in the town of Alcanar, south of Barcelona.

Maj. Josep Lluís Trapero, the police chief in the Catalonia region, of which Barcelona is the capital, said at a news conference on Monday that the police had “solid indications” that Mr. Essati was one of them, although they were awaiting the results of DNA tests. The other is yet to be positively identified.

The police also said on Monday that they were certain that Mr. Abouyaaqoub was the driver of the van.

They released surveillance camera images of Mr. Abouyaaqoub, wearing a striped polo shirt, and gave details about how he managed to escape from downtown Barcelona. “We believe he was the only one in the van and driving it,” Major Trapero said.

Mr. Abouyaaqoub fled on foot from Las Ramblas, the police said, and crossed another popular tourist destination, La Boqueria, a busy food market. He then spotted a stationary car in the city’s university district, killed the owner and put the body on the back seat. Then he forced his way through a police check point.

The driver, Pau Pérez, was found stabbed to death in his vehicle on the outskirts of Barcelona.

Two of the 15 people killed were children, including a 7-year-old who had Australian and British citizenship. Six victims were Spanish, including one who also held an Argentine passport. Three were Italians, two were Portuguese, one Belgian, one American and one Canadian, the authorities said.

Fifty of the victims remained in hospitals on Monday, 12 of them in critical condition, down from the 126 who were taken to the hospital immediately after the attacks.

The police chief said that the investigation had gained an international dimension, implying that other countries’ police and intelligence agencies were now involved, but did not provide details.

He also would not comment on reports that the imam had longstanding ties to extremists and had spent time overseas, including in Belgium early last year, shortly before terrorists attacked the airport and subway in Brussels. The imam spent time in prison in Spain on drug-related charges, but had no record for terrorism-related activities.

Major Trapero defended the level of police surveillance ahead of the attacks.

The country has avoided major acts of jihadist terrorism since the Brussels attack, even as the Islamic State and other extremists struck other cities across Europe.

Major Trapero said that it would be “playing dirty” to accuse the police of lapses, and that the police had never received information that would have justified acting against members of the cell.

Asked why nobody had raised the alarm in Alcanar, as terrorists stored over 100 gas cylinders in their bomb-making house, Major Trapero said: “We have to be cautious not to criminalize the ones who didn’t see or act.”

Even with Mr. Abouyaaqoub on the run, Spain kept its level of terrorism alert on Monday at four, on a scale from one to five.

At a news conference in Madrid, Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido praised the “fluid” cooperation between the authorities in Barcelona and Madrid since the attacks. Mr. Zoido urged citizens to join a march next Saturday in Barcelona to condemn terrorism. “We all make ours the suffering of Barcelona,” he said.




Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Sunday (August 20) that while his country had foiled Western designs to topple him, his army had not won defeated insurgents and the fight was continuing.

He said that:…”the signs of victory are there. But signs are something and winning is something else.”

In a televised address, Assad said that even though there were signs of victory after six-and-a-half years of civil war, the “battle continues, and where we go later and it becomes possible to talk about victory…that’s a different matter”.

He did not elaborate on that point.

However, he said the assistance extended by stalwart allies Russia, Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement had enabled the army to make battlefield gains and reduce the burden of war.

“Tthere are chapters that are going to be written about our friends”, he said before naming who these friends are, “ Iran, Imam Khamenei, about Russia and President Putin, about Hezbollah and Sayed Nasrallah.” He said as the crowd around him clapped and applauded.

He said his country welcomed Russian-brokered, regional ceasefire deals that Moscow is seeking to extend elsewhere in Syria as these would end bloodshed and bring an end to insurgency and pardoning of rebels.

Russia steps up probe into attack claimed by Islamic State

MOSCOW — Russia said Sunday that a stabbing that injured seven people and was claimed by the Islamic State group is being probed by top investigators in Moscow, as new details emerged.

IS claimed responsibility for the attack in the remote city of Surgut along with the attacks in Spain that killed 14 through its Amaq propaganda agency, calling the attacker “a soldier of the Islamic State.”

A black-clad attacker in a balaclava ranged through central streets of the city around 1,330 miles northeast of Moscow on Saturday morning, stabbing people apparently at random before being shot by police.

Russia, which initially said the theory of terrorism was “not the main one” being considered, has opened a criminal probe into attempted murder and has not reacted officially to the IS claim.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

IS takes responsibility for attack in Surgut and posts a poster on 

The Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said in a statement on Sunday that “due to the wide public reaction,” its chief Alexander Bastrykin has put the case directly under control of its central apparatus in Moscow.

Investigators said they had carried out searches of the attacker’s home and were establishing the circumstances and the “motive for the attacker’s actions.”

The attacker was born in 1998, the Investigative Committee said, while previously it had said he was born in 1994.

Unconfirmed media reports on Saturday had described the attacker as a 19-year-old whose father originates from Dagestan in Russia’s mainly-Muslim North Caucasus region.

Video posted by Izvestia newspaper on its website on Sunday showed the attacker, a slim young man, lying on the ground dressed all in black with a red object taped round his waist.

NTV television aired witness video of a policeman chasing the attacker through streets and firing apparently at his head, after which the attacker falls to the ground.

Earlier investigators said that they were looking into the attacker’s “possible psychiatric disorders.”

One of the stabbing victims remained in a serious condition while the others were stable, investigators said.

Late Saturday, the governor of the region Natalya Komarova visited the wounded in hospital. She said one victim was fighting for his life.

1979 Klan-Nazi attack survivor hopes for a ‘justice river’

GREENSBORO, North Carolina (AP) — The Rev. Nelson Johnson needs no reminders of the massacre of five of his labor-activist friends almost 40 years ago — he still has the faded scar on his left arm, left by a Nazi who stabbed him as white supremacists descended on a march for workers through black neighborhoods in Greensboro.

But the violence surrounding the Aug. 12 march by Ku Klux Klansmen and Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the death of a young woman hit by a car there, brought the events of Nov. 3, 1979 into sharper focus for him.

“I was horrified,” he said.

Johnson, now 74, was a member of the Workers Viewpoint Organization, which planned a march through a public housing project in Greensboro before a labor conference on Nov. 3, 1979. While the focus was on workers, textile mill wages and brown lung disease, it was also billed as a “Death to the Klan” rally. Both the rally title and the organization’s decision to rename itself the Communist Workers Party were mistakes, Johnson now acknowledges.

Nazis and Ku Klux Klansmen drove into the march and then fired at demonstrators, and a report found that some demonstrators also were armed and fired in response. Five marchers were killed and at least 10 people were wounded, including Johnson. All-white juries at two trials acquitted the Klan and Nazi members, who claimed self-defense. Testimony showed both the police and the then-Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms had been warned by informants about the Klan-Nazi plans.

Members of the Greensboro Police Department, along with Klan and Nazi members, were found liable at a civil trial for the death of one victim, and the city paid $351,000 to his family. The details were outlined in a report, completed in 2006 by the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

A Nazi knifed Johnson’s left arm, which Johnson had used defensively to prevent a more serious wound to his abdomen. A light scar, faded over 38 years, is barely visible, and Johnson can’t move one finger because of where the knife sliced a muscle.

In this Aug. 16, 2017 photo, the Rev. Nelson Johnson and his wife, Joyce, stand beside a historical marker for the 'Greensboro Massacre' in Greensboro, N.C. Near that spot on Nov. 3, 1979, Nazis and members of the Ku Klux Klan attacked marching workers, leaving five dead and Johnson injured. (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed)

Early reports described the attack as an ambush, but the narrative changed quickly from that to one of equivalent blame for the marchers and the killers — similar to what President Donald Trump said this week about Charlottesville.

“To hear our president frame the issue this way was frighteningly familiar,” Johnson said.

Still, he’s optimistic about the public response and that of local and state leaders to the Charlottesville protest and death, compared to the way officials reacted in Greensboro in 1979.

“The response was much different,” he said. “The mayor, the governor, the leaders of Charlottesville all quickly came to the defense of those who were brutalized and abused. Nothing approximating that happened in Greensboro. And we were quickly isolated and alone.”

Death threats led Johnson and his family to move from their house in the woods on the edge of the city to a home with several other families. He couldn’t find a job. About 20 pro-labor protesters who had jobs in the Greensboro area were fired and left town, he said.

The attack came at a time when the WVO was “building the strongest black unity in the history of Greensboro,” Johnson said. It destroyed the CWP, which changed its name once again before folding.

“If somebody could have told me that I would have become a pariah in this city, I just wouldn’t have believed it,” he said. While listening to a radio show, he heard callers say that his death would have been the best outcome of the Greensboro massacre.

It has taken four decades, but attitudes in Greensboro are changing. In 2015, the state placed a highway marker near the site of the march and titled it “Greensboro Massacre,” a word that even the truth and reconciliation report had avoided. And last week, spurred by the Charlottesville violence, the Greensboro City Council officially apologized.

Change can be painful, Johnson said, but he’s convinced it is coming.

“There are going to be, in the process of social transformation, suffering and tragedies,” Johnson said, standing underneath the marker. “I do think, though, that when you can transform tragedy into triumph, it forms a justice stream. And as those justice streams begin to merge, it forms a justice river.”

Rivers, Johnson said, have power to alter the landscape.

“And that’s what I think this period is calling us to,” he said. “There are a lot of rivers in the last few years. The Dallas river. The Charlotte river. And you could go on for a while. How do we take those struggles, where that unearned suffering becomes redemptive and becomes part of a stream building a mighty river of transformation? I see this sign here as a symbol of that.”

Barcelona Jews reject their rabbi’s predictions of doom after attack

A spokesman for the Barcelona Jewish Community on Friday rejected predictions of doom from the local chief rabbi, vowing that the city’s Jews would not abandon the city in the wake of the deadly attack by Islamic terrorists.

“Barcelona is a city where Jews have been living for one hundred years and of which they are proud. We Jews will not leave our city,” spokesman Victor Sorenssen said in an email to the Times of Israel.

His comments came after the Barcelona Chief Rabbi Meir Bar-Hen said he believes the Jewish community in Barcelona is “doomed,” because authorities in Spain do not want to confront radical Islam.

Without mentioning Bar-Hen by name, Sorenssen said that the Jews of Barcelona had a vibrant past and a positive future and are an integral part of multi-cultural Barcelona.

“Since 1977, with the arrival of democracy, the Jewish community has played an active role in the social fabric of Barcelona. The Jewish community participates actively in social, cultural and religious life of the society and has relation with the institutions of the city, of Catalonia and Spain,” he said, noting that next year the community will celebrate it’s centenary after being reformed following the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492.

“In these hundred years, Jews from all over the world have been an active part of this reconstruction,” said Sorenssen, who wrote that he had been asked to speak out on behalf of the “crisis committee of the Jewish community” in response to the terror attack. “We are living a revival of Jewish culture.”

People stand next to flowers, candles and other items set up on the Las Ramblas boulevard in Barcelona as they pay tribute to the victims of the Barcelona attack on August 18, 2017. (AFP/PASCAL GUYOT)

Sorenssen said the terror attack would not change the Jewish community’s commitment to the city.

“The scourge of terrorism has shaken our city with force, as it has done in other European cities. We live moments of sadness, very difficult moments. In these moments of distress the Jewish community cries and prays for the victims. And more. Our community has offered help to the authorities for whatever they may need,” he said.

“Terrorism, with its vile mechanisms of fear, will not be able to defeat us. Barcelona is not afraid, its Jews join them it this stance. This cowardly attack will make us stronger. It is time for solidarity and social commitment. Not for sensationalist headlines,” Sorenssen added.

In an interview with JTA published earlier Friday, Rabbi Bar-Hen had stressed that he was speaking as a private person and not for all members of his community. Nevertheless he said he had urged his congregation to leave what he called a “hub of Islamist terror for all of Europe” for years before the attacks Thursday and Friday.

“Jews are not here permanently,” Bar-Hen said of the city and region. “I tell my congregants: Don’t think we’re here for good. And I encourage them to buy property in Israel. This place is lost. Don’t repeat the mistake of Algerian Jews, of Venezuelan Jews. Better [get out] early than late.”

Barcelona chief Rabbi Meir Bar Hen. (Screen capture

A white van on Thursday careered into crowds on Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s feted thoroughfare, when the street was packed with locals and tourists. More than 100 were injured, and 14 people killed. The driver of the van fled on foot and was believed to be still at large on Friday. Police shot dead another man at a checkpoint Thursday. The Islamic State terrorist group claimed responsibility for that attack.

Hours later, police killed in a raid in Cambrils five men whom police said were terrorists planning an imminent attack.

People leave the Plaza de Catalunya after observing a minute of silence for the victims of the Barcelona attack on August 18, 2017, a day after a van ploughed into the crowd, killing 13 persons and injuring over 100 on the Rambla in Barcelona.o / AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENE

Part of the problem exposed by the attacks, Bar-Hen said, is the presence of a large Muslim community with “radical fringes.” Once these people are “living among you,” he said of terrorists and their supporters, “it’s very difficult to get rid of them. They only get stronger.” He also said this applied to Europe as a whole. “Europe is lost,” he said.

The Barcelona community on Friday resumed activities that it had suspended briefly following the terror attack.



President Donald Trump’s comments on dealing with protesters are coming back to haunt him after the violence that broke out Saturday at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The clashes between Nazis and counterprotesters left three people dead, including one anti-fascist demonstrator who was killed when a man rammed his car into the group she was with.

The president, whose initial statement about the rally was criticized for failing to mention racism, now finds comments he made about attacking protesters being revisited. Throughout his election campaign, Trump appeared to encourage violence toward anti-Trump protesters who showed up at his rallies, telling crowds of people that protesters should be escorted out more roughly, and offering to pay the legal fees of any of his fans who attacked them.

“If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously, OK? Just knock the hell… I promise you I will pay for the legal fees. I promise, I promise,” Trump said at an Iowa rally on February 1, 2016.

At another event, Trump suggested police should be more violent with people they removed from his rallies. “You see, in the good old days, law enforcement acted a lot quicker than this,” Trump said at a rally in Oklahoma City, The New York Times reported, as security moved toward a protester.

“A lot quicker. In the good old days, they’d rip him out of that seat so fast. But today everyone is so politically correct. Our country is going to hell—we’re being politically correct,” he added.

His comments are now being recalled in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, with Democratic U.S. Representative Maxine Walters tweeting on Monday: “Don’t forget, Trump offered to pay legal fees for those who attacked protesters at his rallies. Will he be making that same offer now?”

She added: “Trump defined himself during campaign. He encouraged violence against protesters at rallies. We should not be surprised. ‪#Charlottesviille”

In a tweet from Vets Against Trump, the group referenced Republican legislation that protects drivers who run over protesters in their car. The so-called common-sense legislation protects drivers “exercising due care” if they hit someone who is protesting and blocking traffic from civil liability; it does not, however, apply to a person who intentionally runs into someone.

“After ‪#Charlottesville, remember that GOP lawmakers across the country have introduced bills to legalize hitting protesters with cars,” Vets Against Trump said.

Trump finally denounced the KKK supporters who gathered in Virginia Saturday after nearly three days of officials on the right and left asking him to do so. “Racism is evil,” Trump said Monday. “And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

At least 17 killed in attack on restaurant in Burkina Faso

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Suspected Islamic extremists opened fire at a Turkish restaurant late Sunday in the capital of Burkina Faso, killing at least 17 people in the second such attack on a restaurant popular with foreigners in the last two years.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the violence, which continued into the early hours Monday with yet another heavy exchange of gunfire overheard by witnesses.

Communication Minister Remi Dandjinou told journalists that at least 17 people were dead and eight others wounded, according to a provisional toll. The victims came from several different nationalities, he said. Among the dead was at least one French national.

Security forces arrived at the scene with armored vehicles after reports of shots fired near Aziz Istanbul, an upscale restaurant in Ouagadougou. The attack brought back painful memories of the January 2016 attack at another cafe that left 30 people dead.

Burkina Faso, a landlocked nation in West Africa, is one of the poorest countries in the world. It shares a northern border with Mali, which has long battled Islamic extremists.

The three attackers in the 2016 massacre were of foreign origin, according to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which claimed responsibility in the aftermath along with the jihadist group known as Al Mourabitoun. But the terror threat in Burkina Faso is increasingly homegrown, experts say.

The northern border region is now the home of a local preacher, Ibrahim Malam Dicko, who radicalized and has claimed recent deadly attacks against troops and civilians. His association, Ansarul Islam, is now considered a terrorist group by Burkina Faso’s government.

Did a Nazi Submarine Attack a Chemical Plant in North Carolina?

It’s a sizzling July day at Kure Beach. Kids in bathing suits walk barefoot along Fort Fisher Boulevard; moms and dads lug lawn chairs to the sand…


Motels with names like “The Hang Ten Grill” and “The Salty Hammock” bespeak a chilled-out lifestyle in this summer community, located 15 miles south of Wilmington, North Carolina.

But just down Atlantic Avenue, a narrow four-block-long road from Kure (pronounced “Cure-ee”) Beach Fishing Pier, an old seaside cottage bears witness to a time when things weren’t all sunshine and Cheerwine along the Carolina coast. It was here on a July night in 1943 that a German U-Boat supposedly surfaced and fired shots at a factory complex located a half-mile off shore. If the incident actually occurred—and many believe it didn’t—it would have been the only time the East Coast of the United States was attacked during the Second World War.

“It’s a tradition among the old timers on Kure Beach that this happened,” says John Gregory III, who along with his sister, now owns a shorefront cottage built by his grandparents in the late 1930s. “It wasn’t just because my grandparents saw it, but lots of other people at the time, too.”

The now infamous story that Gregory’s grandmother told him goes like this: On the night of July 24, John E. Gregory Sr. and his wife, Lorena, both of whom would have been in their mid-50s at the time, were sitting on the porch in their rocking chairs (one of the chairs is still on the porch. It’s John’s favorite place to sit and admire the view.) Everything was swathed in a darkness accentuated by the blackout curtains that houses had hung to make the coastline less visible. (Civil authorities had imposed blackouts to hide the profiles of merchant marine ships from lurking U-Boats.)

The waters off the Carolinas had been swarming with U-Boats since the United States entered the war in December, 1941. The enemy fleet had collectively inflicted enormous damage to merchant shipping along the East Coast and elsewhere in the first six months of the war. By the summer of 1942, however, a combination of improved Allied intelligence, stronger coastal defenses, including anti-submarine technologies and air reconnaissance, and the all-important implementation of the convoy system, had weakened the U-Boat force.

This is the U-85, the first U-boat sunk by the U.S. in WWII. It was sunk of Nags Head, NC on April 14, 1942 in action with the USS Roper with the loss of all hands. (NC Maritime Museums)

Off the North Carolina coast alone, four U-Boats had been sunk in the summer of 1942. In his 2014 history The Burning Shore, military historian Ed Offley wrote that the U-Boats had concentrated their efforts along the Carolina coast for its relative safety; the U.S. had not yet organized a coastal defense system. “In July 1942,” he wrote, “that was longer the case.”

But those advances against the Germans weren’t readily apparent to the Gregorys or any other civilians along the coast. Military patrols “along the beach were still a common sight and a nighttime curfew was in effect. Suddenly, as the couple gazed out on the water, a spotlight just off shore bathed their porch in blinding light. It moved to the left, then to the right, scanning the beach. Then they heard what Lorena would describe as “artillery fire,” before poof! The light went dark.

“The whole thing happened in a minute or two,” says John Gregory, recounting the story his grandmother told him. “They just sat there petrified. There was nothing they could do. There was no phone in the house back then, so they couldn’t call anybody.”

The next morning, a number of neighbors said they’d also seen the light, or heard the firing. John Sr. sought out a military officer at the nearest command post to tell them what they’d witnessed. “The response was, `Nothing happened. You didn’t see anything,’” says John Jr. “But my grandparents and their neighbors knew what they saw…it was a German submarine.”

When Wilbur Jones, a local historian with a special interest in World War II-era Wilmington, came to see John Jr. about the matter in 2015, Gregory was happy to share the tale with him. Jones, a retired U.S. Navy captain, grew up in Wilmington and was a child during the war. Now 83, he is the author of two memoirs about life in the city during the war years, including A Sentimental Journey: Memoirs of a Wartime Boomtown (2002).

A boomtown it was: During the Second World War, Wilmington was one of the great “Arsenals of Democracy.” The North Carolina Shipbuilding Company employed about 21,000 people during the war years. In their massive Wilmington shipyards, they produced the so-called Liberty Ships, cargo vessels that hauled all kinds of freight (and later, troops) and became a symbol of American industrial might. According to Jones, by mid-1943, construction time at NCSC for a single, 441-foot long, 10,800-ton Liberty Ship—from keel-laying to delivery—was about 30 days. A wartime commission headed by then-Senator Harry Truman had found the Wilmington operation one of the most efficient in the entire country.

There were other important military installations in and around the city, including the Ethyl-Dow plant, which extracted bromine, a component of aviation fuel, from seawater. The facility—a partnership between Dow Chemical and the Ethyl corporation—employed 1,500 people.

“That plant was one of just a couple in the U.S. that was producing the compound for aviation gasoline,” Jones said. “It was an important part of the defense industry in Wilmington at that time.” And, he adds, it would have been a high value target to the enemy, and its where many locals, the Gregorys included, thought the artillery fire was directed.

In the mid-1990s, when Jones began researching his memoir, he interviewed another man who had worked at the plant and claimed to have heard the whistling of the shells that night (which, the man pointed out, not only missed the factory but exploded harmlessly over the nearby Cape Fear River).

“We think [the shells] are still there, along the bank,” says Jones. He also read accounts and interviewed witnesses who said that the lights of the NCSC shipyard were turned off that night from roughly midnight to 5:30 a.m.—a drastic move at an around-the-clock operation, and probably the only time the plant shut down during the entire war.

After consulting other records and historians, including a 1946 report in the Raleigh News and Observer quoting eyewitness accounts from a chemist at the plant that night and the commander of the local Coast Guard Auxiliary, he reached his conclusion: “I think it’s very possible that a lone sub was operating here for intelligence,” Jones says. “They realized they had an opportunity to do something, so they did.” He hastens to add, “I’m not going to swear on a stack of Bibles, but all common sense and circumstantial evidence points to this.”

Jones gave considerable space in his book to the views of those who believe the attack never took place, foremost among them another retired Navy officer and Wilmington resident named David Carnell, now deceased. In a letter to Jones, Carnell—who had done his own research—dismissed the attack as “mythology.”

Jerry Mason, a retired U.S. Navy pilot whose website is widely recognized as a definitive source of information on the German submarines, agrees. “It’s highly unlikely,” he says. He bases his naysaying on his work with both the National Archives and WWII scholars in Germany, as well as his extensive set of U-Boat logs. Mason says that according to these records, by July 1943, there was only one submarine operating off the coast of the Carolinas—U-190—and its commander, Max Wintermeyer, was known for being cautious; a sensible posture for a U-Boat skipper at this point in the war.

Additionally, Mason says, the U-190 logs suggest the ship was far from Kure Beach that night and mention nothing about shelling the coast on that night in July, 1943. “Doing so on his own initiative would have been highly unusual,” he says, “because shore bombardment was a special task normally approved at the highest level of command.” Indeed, he points out, using deck guns to fire upon land was used rarely after a failed attack upon an oil refinery in Dutch-held Aruba resulted in missed targets and the gun exploding in the face of its operators.

Other experts—while stopping short of saying they believe the attack took place—argue that an attack by a lone wolf sub on a random, but symbolic, target is not something that should be completely ruled out. (It should also be noted that, Mason’s records show two other U-Boats entered North Carolina waters that same week).

Among the personal pictures found among the belongings of the ill-fated submarine crew is this image of U-85 taken sometime before her fourth and final war patrol (War Record of the Fifth Naval District, 1942),  To the right is a photograph by Brett Seymour of the National Park Service’s Submerged Resources Center, taken from a similar viewpoint in 2009, which shows a possible penetration of the pressure hull from USS Roper’s gunfire. The wreck of U-85 is considered a war grave by both the United States and Germany. (Courtesy the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA))  

“Is it possible that a U-Boat commander would sneak up as close as he could, take a couple of pot shots and hope he gets lucky?” asks Joseph Schwarzer, director of the North Carolina Maritime Museum System. “Yes, it’s possible.”

A maritime archaeologist, Schwarzer has done extensive research on the U-Boat war along the Outer Banks, about 300 miles up the coast from Wilmington. There, enemy activity was most intense. “The German U-Boat commanders were pretty brazen in a lot of cases,” he says.

Richard MacMichael a historian with the Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, Nova Scotia, concurs. “U-Boats sank ships just outside Halifax and New York Harbors,” he said. “So it’s not outside the realm of possibility that a submarine might be looking at targeting places along the East Coast, even later in the war.” And the fact that the story of the Kure Beach incident didn’t emerge until after the war isn’t all that surprising, he says. “If that submarine did pop up to say `Hi’ off Wilmington in July, 1943, well I’m not surprised if someone said ‘We don’t want this released,’” says McMichael. “You can imagine the panic. It would have been something they would have wanted hushed up.”

If what the Gregorys—and apparently many others—saw off the coast of Kure Beach wasn’t an enemy submarine, what else could it have been? And why did the NCSC go dark that same night?

Carnell believed it was a false sonar reading that caused the shutdown. But unless some hitherto-unknown documents turn up or fragments of German ordnance are someday fished out of the Cape Fear River, the argument may never be settled to everyone’s satisfaction. Regardless, John Gregory—who maintains that what his grandparents saw was an enemy vessel—believes the history here should be well-known to Kure Beach visitors. He has put up a historic sign about the incident in front of his cottage to educate the public about the alleged U-Boat sighting, as well as the realities of wartime life in this now-idyllic seaside retreat.

“Hundreds of people walk by here, all summer long,” a resident said. “And they have no idea that this was once a war zone.”

Police shoot, arrest suspect in Paris car-ramming attack

LEVALLOIS-PERRET, France (AP) — French police shot and arrested a man Wednesday suspected of slamming a BMW into soldiers in a Paris suburb Wednesday, injuring six of them in what appeared to be a carefully timed ambush before speeding away, officials said.

The driver’s motive was unclear, but officials said he deliberately aimed at the soldiers, and counterterrorism authorities opened an investigation. The attacker and soldiers were hospitalized.

It was the latest of several attacks targeting security forces guarding France over the past year. While others have targeted prominent sites like the Eiffel Tower, Wednesday’s attack hit the leafy, relatively affluent suburb of Levallois-Perret that is home to France’s main intelligence service, the DGSI, and its counterterrorism service.

“We know it was a deliberate act,” Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said. Defense Minister Florence Parly called it proof that extra security measures imposed in recent years are “more necessary than ever.”

Officials said French police searched a building in a suburb west of Paris believed to be linked to the chief suspect.

French police officers work on the scene where French soldiers were hit and injured by a vehicle in the western Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret near Paris, France, Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

On a quiet summer morning, the suspect was seen waiting in a BMW in a cul-de-sac near the Levallois city hall and a building used as a staging point for soldiers in France’s Sentinelle operation to protect prominent sites from attack, according to two police officials.

A group of soldiers emerged from the building to board vehicles for a new shift when the car sped up and rammed into them, its force hurling the soldiers against their van, according to one official. The interior minister said the car first approached slowly then sped up about five meters (yards) from its target.

A nearby resident described an ear-piercing scream of pain, then soldiers chasing after the fleeing car.

Authorities checked video surveillance of the area and police fanned out and stopped numerous cars as they searched for the attacker. Most were released.

Then, on the A16 highway near the English Channel port of Calais, police stopped what the prime minister called the “principal suspect” in the attack. Images of the arrest scene show emergency vehicles surrounding a black BMW with a damaged windshield, on a cordoned-off highway in the midst of verdant fields.

French police officers stand near the scene where French soldiers were hit and injured by a vehicle in the western Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret near Paris, France, Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

Police officers opened fire during the arrest to subdue the man, and the suspect was injured along with a police officer hit by a stray bullet, according to a judicial official. The official wasn’t authorized to be publicly named because of an ongoing police operation.

The suspect’s condition was not immediately clear.

Three of the soldiers hit in the morning attack were slightly injured and three were more seriously hurt, but their lives weren’t in danger, according to the Defense Ministry. The defense minister said she received “reassuring” news about their condition Wednesday afternoon.

The soldiers were from the 35th infantry regiment and served in Operation Sentinelle, created to guard prominent French sites after a string of deadly Islamic extremist attacks in 2015.

A witness to the car attack, Nadia LeProhon, was startled by a loud crash outside her building and rushed outside her seventh-floor window to see two soldiers on the ground. Other soldiers ran after a speeding car, shouting “After him! Follow that car!”

“I’ll never forget that scream — a scream of pain and distress,” she told The Associated Press.

French police officer carries a bag from the scene where French soldiers were hit and injured by a vehicle in the western Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret near Paris, France, Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

Resident Jean-Claude Veillant said he saw two uniformed soldiers prone on the ground when he came down to the entrance of his 13-story building.

“It was horrible,” he said, adding that both soldiers appeared to be in bad shape and one of them was unconscious.

The street is normally guarded by posts that are removed when vehicles move in and out, so the driver must have known exactly when to strike, Veillant said. “They must’ve really planned this,” he said.

French counterterrorism prosecutors opened an investigation aimed at pursuing perpetrators on charges of attempted murder of security forces in connection with a terrorist enterprise, the Paris prosecutor’s office said.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said that despite sustained “high threat” against France, the government is sticking to plans to lift a 21-month state of emergency.

Speaking to lawmakers, he insisted that a new bill enshrining permanent counterterrorism measures would be enough to replace the state of emergency, imposed after deadly Islamic extremist attacks in November 2015. The bill is currently under parliamentary debate, ahead of an expected end to the state of emergency November 1.

French President Emmanuel Macron discussed the attack at a security meeting Wednesday and at a weekly cabinet meeting.

Car rams soldiers near Paris in suspected attack

PARIS — French police say a vehicle slammed into soldiers guarding a Paris suburb, injuring six of them, before getting away.

Authorities are now searching for the vehicle and driver after the Wednesday incident, according to a Paris police spokesman.

The vehicle appeared to clearly target the soldiers but the motive is unclear, the spokesman said. The official was not authorized to be publicly named according to police policy.

Four people were injured lightly, two more seriously, the spokesman said.

The incident in Levallois, northwest of Paris, is the latest of several attacks targeting security forces in France guarding sites after a string of deadly attacks.