A van ran over pedestrians causing multiple casualties in the London Bridge area. The vehicle has yet again been used as a weapon of terror. The ISIS has made the truck or any vehicle as the choice of weapon. Be it Nice in France, Germany and now London, the vehicle has become the most popular weapons for jihadis.
In this context one must date back to 2014 when both the ISIS and al-Qaeda have been making calls to its followers to use vehicles to mow down terror targets.
Vehicle-ramming is not something new and has been used extensively by Palestinian terrorists in Israel. One could also go back to Saturday, 30 June, 2007, when Kafeel Ahmed, a jihadi of Indian from Bengaluru in Karnataka , rammed a burning car into the wall of Glasgow airport.
Investigations in Karnataka against a suspected terrorist operative also had found that he had planned on ramming his explosives-laden van at a popular tourist destination in Goa.
What these incidents, including the carnage at Nice, tell us is that terrorists are moving away from the conventional weapons of terror such as the gun or the bomb.
A vehicle is a simple but a deadly choice of weapon. It is never on the radar and any person can create havoc by mowing down people in large numbers. It does give that element of surprise which has been a nightmare for security agencies to deal with.
In this context we need to revisit a few calls that had been given by the Islamic State as well al-Qaeda. While the Islamic State had spoken about cars as a choice of weapon, al-Qaeda had very specifically mentioned trucks while terming it as the ultimate mowing machine.
In 2015, al-Qaeda called on jihadists to attack with trucks. In a lengthy article that was written in its propaganda magazine, Inspire, it termed the truck as the 'ultimate mowing machine'. The article said "Pick up the truck not to mow grass, but mow down the enemies".
The other call was made by the Islamic State. In a statement released by Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, a leader of the group, said, "If you are unable to find an IED or a bullet, run your enemy over with a car".
In a more recent message, it once again called for the use of cars. The message read, "There are cars available and targets ready to kill. Kill them, spit on their faces and run them over with your cars."
These messages clearly suggest that terrorist groups are going beyond the conventional weapon. The weapons is no longer important. It is more important that the so called infidel is killed.
Adnani not only speaks about cars in his message. He even says poison, rocks and knives can be weapons of choice. Further he also says that it is fine if you push your enemy down from a high place.
The message from Adnani reads, "If you are unable 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."
The basic idea is to ensure that the terror spree continues. Terrorist groups are going to use the more unconventional method to strike in the days to come. The intent is just one and that is to create panic and fear and for them the manner in which it is done is no longer important.
The Islamic State does realise with more attacks, security officials will enhance surveillance and vigil. It may become difficult to sneak in guns and bombs. In such a scenario unconventional weapons come in handy.
An odd choice:
Vehicles, poison, knives or rocks do not come under the nose of the security agencies.
The Islamic State, which has been calling for lone wolf attacks, is looking to make terror easier and cost effective. It would not invest in the attack, but make sure that the strike is attributed to it. The outfit will continue to provide the material for propaganda on the internet and hope that attacks are carried out in its name.