ISIS has claimed responsibility for a terror attack where van rammed into a crowd in Barcelona and killed 13 people while injuring dozens of others.
This type of attack has become more popular with groups like al Qaeda and ISIS advocating for it.
Even this trend of using a vehicle as a weapon for terrorism has increased in the recent years, this method was employed as early as 1981. A group called al-Dawa, which is an Iraqi Shi'a Islamist group, rammed a vehicle with bombs at the Iraqi embassy in Lebanon. The explosion killed 61 people.
Once again in Lebanon, in 1983, two truck bombs rammed into separate buildings in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War. Even though the attackers did not ram into people, the attacks claimed the lives of 307 people (of which two of them were the attackers).
In the turn of the 21st century, incidents of causing terror by ramming vehicles into people has increased.
ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani in 2014 advocated the use of vehicles as weapons in a bid to inspire lone wolf attacks. He said, “If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman or any of their allies. Smash his head with a rock or slaughter him with a knife or run him over with your car or throw him down from a high place or choke him or poison him."
As of 2017, two of the biggest terror outfits in the world – al Qaeda and ISIS – were preaching this form of terror attack.
Here are some of the larger attacks that have taken place since 2016:
July 14, 2016, France – A man drove a 20-ton rental truck into a massive crowd after the Bastille Day fireworks displace in Nice. The attack killed 84.
November 28, 2016, US – A man named Abdul Razak Ali Artan carried out a car and knife attack. There were no fatalities but 11 people were injured.
December 19, 2016, Berlin – 12 people died after a Tunisian man rammed a tractor trailer at a crowded Christmas market.
March 22, 2017, London – An SUV was driven into a crowd standing along the Westminster Bridge in London. The attack led to the deaths of four people.
April 7, 2017, Sweden – Four people died when a truck drove right into pedestrians in Stockholm.
June 3, 2017, London – Two separate terror attacks take place in London. One is caused by a van ramming into pedestrians standing in the London Bridge. It was followed by a knife attack.
June 19, 2017, London – The Finsbury Park attack takes place. A van was driven at pedestrians standing close to the Finsbury Mosque. Eight people were injured.
August 13, 2017, US: A 20-year-old alleged white supremacist ploughed down a group protesting fascism. A woman was killed and multiple others were injured.
August 17, 2017: A vehicle rams into a crowd in Barcelona killing 13 people.
Our assessment is that the reason vehicle ramming attacks have become popular with terrorists is because they are relatively easy to plan and be carried out without any detection.