Terrorist in New York Attack Is Latest to Use Truck as Weapon of Choice

Terrorists have been using trucks in attacks around the world.

The weapon of choice of a man suspected of killing eight and injuring 11, in what officials are calling the deadliest terror attack on New York City since Sept. 11, 2001, was a vehicle.

Sayfullo Saipov, 29, plowed a rented Home Depot pickup truck into a crowded bike path along the Hudson River in Manhattan Tuesday, only stopping when he smashed into a school bus, authorities said.

Though investigators have not yet confirmed any ties between Saipov and established terrorist groups, the way in which he attacked unsuspecting tourists and New Yorkers has become commonplace in ISIS-directed or inspired attacks around the world.

On July 14, 2016, a terrorist drove a 19-ton truck through crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France, killing 86 people — including 10 children and teenagers — and injuring hundreds more.

On Dec. 19, 2016, 12 people were killed and 49 were injured when a terrorist drove a truck traveling around 40 miles per hour into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin.

On March 22, 2017, a man mounted his rented car onto the pavement near the Houses of Parliament in London, hitting pedestrians before crashing into the perimeter fence of the Palace of Westminster. The terrorist left the car and ran toward Parliament, fatally stabbing PC Keith Palmer before he was shot dead by armed officers.  

On June 3, 2017, seven people were killed and 48 people were injured in a terror attack in London, during which a van crashed into London Bridge. Its three occupants ran to the nearby Borough Market, where they began stabbing people in and around restaurants and bars.

On Aug. 17, 2017, a terrorist plowed into pedestrians in a popular area of Barcelona, killing 13 people and injuring more than 100 residents and tourists.

The common method of attack is not a coincidence.

Both ISIS and al-Qaeda have called on supporters to use cars as weapons, releasing propaganda encouraging would-be terrorists to kill as many as possible using the method that’s notoriously difficult to prevent.

“If you can’t detonate a bomb or fire a shot, manage by yourself… run them over with your car,” ISIS spokesman Mohammed al-Adnani told supporters in a 2014 audio message.

And after the attack in Nice, an article in ISIS’s online magazine Rumiyah praised the carnage and called for others to recreate it.

“Though being an essential part of 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 article said. “Vehicles are like knives, as they are extremely easy to acquire. But unlike knives, which if found in one’s possession can be a cause for suspicion, vehicles around absolutely no doubts due to their widespread use throughout the world.”

Al-Qaeda has also put out calls for attacks using cars to kill Westerners.

“The idea is to use a pickup truck as a mowing machine, not to mow grass but mow down the enemies of Allah,” read an article in the terror group’s English-language magazine, Inspire.

As terror attacks of this nature appear to gain traction, officials throughout the world are examining the best ways to combat such a threat.

In the U.K., authorities are looking at ways to tighten regulations around rent-a-car companies, including the ability for police to cross-check would-be drivers against terror watch lists.

“The threat from terrorism is changing and so must our response," a U.K. government spokeswoman told The Guardian in August.