Terrorists Copycat Tactics

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Toronto. (Photo: Rick Harris/Creative Commons)
Toronto. (Photo: Rick Harris/Creative Commons)

At least 10 people were killed and 13 others wounded in a vehicular ramming attack in Toronto, Canada, on Monday, April 23, 2018.

The motive of the killer, Alek Minassian, is as yet unknown. He did post on Facebook before the attack praising mass murderer Elliot Rodgers and the “incel” community. So-called “incels,” which stands for involuntarily celibate, are a group of men who have formed an identity around their misogynism and the fact that they can’t get women to have sex with them. In 2014 Rodgers killed six people and wounded 14 others before killing himself in a rampage inspired by his hatred of women.

It is important to wait before the facts emerge before speculating about the cause of an attack. But regardless of the motive, the tactic is the same one used by terrorists.

Ramming a car into a crowd of pedestrians was pioneered by jihadists. Al-Qaeda called on its supporters to carry out car ramming attacks as early as 2010. Palestinian terrorists affiliated with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad led a string of attacks against Israeli civilians in 2014.

ISIS repeated the tactic in 2016, when Mohammed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel killed 86 people in a truck ramming attack at a Bastille Day parade in Nice.

Just as terrorist ideologies influence each other, especially in reference to misogynistic attitudes towards women, terrorists copy tactics.

Regardless of the ideology behind attacks, expect car-rammings to remain a part of the the terrorist armory.



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Elliot Friedland

Elliot Friedland is a research fellow at Clarion Project.

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