In Israel since the death of Rigby it became popular for Palestinians to attack Israeli Security Forces or just normal Israeli pedestrians with a vehicle and then a blade of some description. It started with a few isolated attacks and then it became nearly a daily occurrence. It happened so often that it stopped becoming news and the media dropped it from their bulletins.
Large vehicles have always being used to attack Security Forces or pedestrians such as the attacks during the Lebanese civil war in October 1983 when Islamic Jihad drove to large truck bombs into a French military barracks and another building housing American Marines with devastating results.
In 1998 al-Qaeda attacked two United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania with two truck bombs which killed a number of people and injuring many more. Recently in Baghdad, Iraq, in a quiet suburb of Karada on Jul 7th, 2016 a truck bomb was used to a tragic effect against normal everyday shoppers which resulted in over 292 people killed and again many others injured.
A vehicle has also been used in an attack against airports such as in June 2007 when terrorist rammed Glasgow airport in Scotland, UK with a Jeep Cherokee. The vehicle was reportedly loaded with petrol containers and propane gas cylinders on board. The attack failed.
In December 2013 a driver drove his vehicle into pedestrians injuring 13 people in Dijon, France. The single male who carried out the attack was thought to be suffering from mental illness but still cried out the normal Arabic phase of God is great before being arrested. The following day another male who was also considered unbalanced and carried out a similar attack in Nantes, France. He too was arrested.
The latest attack using a large vehicle is in France during Bastille Day in Nice on July 14, 2016 where a large bobtail and reefer. The vehicle was used to drive through a crowd of French and other nationalities (at the time of writing) killing 84 people and injuring up to 100 others. The French and others in the crowd were celebrating Bastille Day when the driver of the vehicle drove into men, women and children. The driver was shot dead. Although there was no immediate claim to the attack a former CIA analyst stated that it was similar to some of the attacks conducted by al-Qaeda and Da’esh. But this was the first time a large vehicle had been used for an attack of this sort. It certainly follows their pattern of attacks and targeting crowds.
The question that has to be asked is, “is this now a new trend for lone wolf attacks?” This could be used now in place of hijacking an aircraft as in the horrific attacks on September 11, 2001 in the United States showed.
To hijack or steal a large vehicle and drive it through a pedestrian area would not be difficult to do and be huge problem for local police forces in Europe and other locations. This could now be a new escalation for terrorists in the use of large vehicles.
The French attack shows that a large vehicle can be obtained and wherever there is a crowd there is a target. In the past such large crowds would attract a vehicle driven by a suicide bomber and with the possibility of a secondary vehicle driven into the crowd or wait until the emergency services arrived before detonating the secondary device.
But in this style of attack there is no logistical chain to worry about which reduces the lone actor of having the attack thwarted. The possibility of seeing a person reconnoitering a location that has large vehicles could possibly indicate that a target has been identified and the individual was looking to steal a vehicle in order to carry out an attack; maybe the only pointer to such an attack. The place near a town or city which would have a large event happening within the near future may give the objective away, but other than that it could be fool proof. The Islamic States (IS) is losing ground and is looking to strike back at the west. What better way than to encourage lone actors to following the footsteps of this attack.
This, as mentioned, requires no logistical chain, no supply of weapons or explosives no progression or sequence for the authorities to follow. The attacker would not require any assistance just the basic knowledge of how a large vehicle is driven in relation to a smaller vehicle.
The police in all countries will have to come up with a counter measure for further attacks of this nature. It is now possible that with history showing that a large vehicle is ideal for attacking people who live in the west, not just Europe but in the Americas as well, then it is now a matter of time before we see another attack akin to the one in Nice, France. With the terrorists inability to hijack an aircraft to fly into a target then this may well become a new weapon for terrorist to use in mass casualties and propaganda purposes.