For years terrorists have called on followers, affiliates, and sympathizers to use any means necessary to harm those who do not follow their ideals. For those who are unable to build their own bombs or acquire the necessary weapons to carry out attacks, the use of vehicles has been recommended to cause damage and harm people.
We’ve seen it time and time again. Terrorists and lone wolfs drive trucks, lorries, and other vehicles through large crowds, injuring and killing the defenseless. It’s an ugly terrorism tactic that has gained momentum in the past few years. Even in just the last few months, we’ve witnessed a handful of these vehicle attacks worldwide. Let’s look back at the most recent incidents and discuss this new terrorism trend of using vehicles as a weapon.
10 Months of Constant Attacks
July 14, 2016 – For almost one mile, a lorry plowed through a large crowd watching a fireworks display celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France. 85 people died and hundreds were injured.
November 28, 2016 – An attacker crashed his car into a university campus crowd and then charged at pedestrians with a knife in Ohio, United States. 11 people were wounded.
December 19, 2016 – A stolen tractor-trailer was rammed into a Christmas market crowd filled with holiday shoppers in Berlin, Germany. 12 people were killed and at least 48 injured.
January 8, 2017 – A truck was used to plow into a group of Israeli soldiers on a popular promenade in Jerusalem, Israel. Four people died and at least 11 were wounded.
March 22, 2017 – An attacker rammed his rental car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and forced his way onto parliament grounds in London, United Kingdom. Five people died and at least 40 were hurt.
April 7, 2017 – A stolen truck crashed through pedestrians and into a department store in a shopping district of Stockholm, Sweden. Five people died and over a dozen wounded.
Effective Terror Tactic
A few years back, an Al Qaeda magazine published an article calling on followers to use pickup trucks to “mow down the enemies of Allah.” The article even provided readers with best practices for striking down as many people as possible in their first run. Various terror groups have since taken on this tactic fully and it’s easy to understand why.
The method is effective. A normally bustling city becomes incapacitated. The immediate target area and surrounding transportation systems, government facilities, public buildings, etc are shut down. Injuries occur and lives are lost. Not to mention the mental effects it has on the community and nation as a whole. The outcome stemming from vehicle attacks is exactly what terrorists and lone wolfs would want. Attention is brought to their own cause while damage is done to weaken their perceived enemies.
Vehicle attacks clearly target vulnerable citizens. It also impacts critical infrastructure through damage caused while these acts are being committed. It may only be a matter of time before critical infrastructure takes over as the sole, primary target of vehicle attacks.
Soon attackers may be ramming vehicles straight through major infrastructures such as airports, military bases, and government facilities. The intention would be to severely disable normal operations for an extended period of time. An attack like this would certainly have a debilitating effect on national security, public safety, and the economy.