National Security

Reminder: ISIS Has Been Calling For Truck Attacks For Years

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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While the recent terrorist attacks involving trucks being driven through groups of pedestrians may seem like a new tactic, groups like the Islamic State have been encouraging vehicular attacks for years.

Certain media outlets described Monday’s attack in Berlin as a sign that terrorist tactics are changing, but ISIS handbooks virtually say, “No.” ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani called for car attacks with the group’s initial rise in 2014, two years before Monday’s incident. Several attacks followed the next year, as noted by Rukmini Callimachi of The New York Times.

The perpetrator of the Berlin attack killed 12 and injured around 50 others when he ran over pedestrians attending the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market. A similar attack in Nice, France July 14, 2016 was the most high-profile terrorist attack using a truck thus far. ISIS follower Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel killed 86 and injured another 434 when he mowed over pedestrians celebrating France’s Bastille Day holiday.

ISIS issued a guide detailing how to engage in terrorist attacks in the West in the November issue of its Rumiyah magazine. The guide noted vehicles are particularly effective weapons, given they are easy to operate and commonly found in most countries. ISIS suggested targeting rallies, public gatherings, parades and markets, just like the one in Berlin. The group even suggested targeting the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York.

“Though being an essential part of the modern life, very few actually comprehend the deadly and destructive capability of the motor vehicle and its capacity of reaping large numbers of casualties if used in a premeditated manner,” the guide stated.

ISIS used the Nice attack as the blueprint for truck attacks. The guide suggests using a large load-bearing truck and arming oneself with a weapon so that the terrorist can continue to kill should the truck become disabled. The Berlin attacker also used a load-bearing truck, and while police have yet to apprehend the person responsible, they do believe the perpetrator is armed.

ISIS has yet to claim the Berlin attack, but it undoubtedly shares similarities to commonly deployed ISIS tactics.

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