The Changing Use of Vehicles in Terrorism and Acts of Violence

Mark Cavies MSyl Physical Security, Security, Security Management

T

he use of vehicles in Terrorist attack methodologies has changed significantly over the last few years; we have seen an increased use of vehicles as weapons in mass casualty attacks against soft targets; the attacks in Nice, Berlin and London have further highlighted this.  The attack perpetrated in Toronto, Canada on April 23rd has again demonstrated how easy it is to cause mass casualties using a single vehicle driven by a “Lone Wolf” attacker.

Historically the vehicle has been used as its own delivery mechanism for the explosive device, commonly known in the Security World as a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device, or VBIED.  The vehicle would be driven and parked in close proximity to the target, the driver would make his escape and the device would be detonated either by timer, booby trap or Wireless Signal.  Also used was the Suicide Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device, or SVBIED, this where a vehicle would be modified with armour plating to protect the driver, it would be driven at speed toward the target or mass gathering; the driver would purposely detonate the IED when close to the intended target, killing him/her self in the process.

The modern use of a VBIED/SVBIED is predominantly a Middle Eastern phenomenon, in addition the UK saw many VBIED attacks perpetrated by the IRA at the height of the Northern Ireland Troubles.  The earliest recorded use was by the Stern Gang or Fighters for the Freedom of Israel (Lehi) when this form of attack was used against British and Palestinian targets.  The earliest recorded SVBIED was perpetrated by Andrew Kehoe on May 18, 1927, in Bath, Michigan, when he committed suicide by detonating an IED in his truck adjacent to a school.  The attack killed and injured many School Children and Adults.

How Tactics Have Evolved

Modern terrorist groups have moved away from the attack methodologies as described above; the recent Islamic extremist terror attacks perpetrated in the West have been unsophistication and with the need for little planning; the attacker will often use a stolen or rented vehicle as the weapon itself and look more at indiscriminate soft targets in public spaces or areas where large numbers of people gather.  The “Terrorism and Political Violence Risk Map” produced by Aon, showed that in 2016 of the 189 terror related fatalities, 99 died where a vehicle was used as the weapon itself, that’s 52% of all terror related fatalities in the West.

Why have Terror Groups Evolved tactics

Intelligence Organizations have had some success in targeting supply chains and disrupting attacks during the planning stage.  Therefore, Terror Groups have been forced to look for new and simpler ways to attack their targets.  Unfortunately, these successes have not necessarily stopped the Terror groups agenda to plan and conduct mass casualty attacks; many Western Countries are still perceived as being high value targets for these groups.

Conclusion

This new form of terrorism gives us all fresh challenges, not just for the Governmental Security & Law Enforcement Services and institutions, but now also for privately owned companies who more than often bear the human and financial consequences of an attack.

In the wake of the ever-changing Threat Landscape, Senior Management and the Board need to urgently re-evaluate what “Risk Exposure” they are willing to accept regarding a vehicle-based attack and moreover, what they can do to better mitigate this risk to their people and operations.

The design and implementation of a Hostile Vehicle Mitigation scheme must be completed by person(s) who have the appropriate level of specialist knowledge and experience to undertake this type of work.  Only appropriately trained specialist can undertake the Vehicle Dynamics Assessment or VDA.  This process ensures that the correct type and mitigation capabilities (PAS:68 or IWA:14) of HVM technology is specified for the client’s unique environment.

Contact us today today to learn more how Goldmark Security Consulting can help you with your security needs.

T

he use of vehicles in Terrorist attack methodologies has changed significantly over the last few years; we have seen an increased use of vehicles as weapons in mass casualty attacks against soft targets; the attacks in Nice, Berlin and London have further highlighted this.  The attack perpetrated in Toronto, Canada on April 23rd has again demonstrated how easy it is to cause mass casualties using a single vehicle driven by a “Lone Wolf” attacker.

Historically the vehicle has been used as its own delivery mechanism for the explosive device, commonly known in the Security World as a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device, or VBIED.  The vehicle would be driven and parked in close proximity to the target, the driver would make his escape and the device would be detonated either by timer, booby trap or Wireless Signal.  Also used was the Suicide Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device, or SVBIED, this where a vehicle would be modified with armour plating to protect the driver, it would be driven at speed toward the target or mass gathering; the driver would purposely detonate the IED when close to the intended target, killing him/her self in the process.

The modern use of a VBIED/SVBIED is predominantly a Middle Eastern phenomenon, in addition the UK saw many VBIED attacks perpetrated by the IRA at the height of the Northern Ireland Troubles.  The earliest recorded use was by the Stern Gang or Fighters for the Freedom of Israel (Lehi) when this form of attack was used against British and Palestinian targets.  The earliest recorded SVBIED was perpetrated by Andrew Kehoe on May 18, 1927, in Bath, Michigan, when he committed suicide by detonating an IED in his truck adjacent to a school.  The attack killed and injured many School Children and Adults.

How Tactics Have Evolved

Modern terrorist groups have moved away from the attack methodologies as described above; the recent Islamic extremist terror attacks perpetrated in the West have been unsophistication and with the need for little planning; the attacker will often use a stolen or rented vehicle as the weapon itself and look more at indiscriminate soft targets in public spaces or areas where large numbers of people gather.  The “Terrorism and Political Violence Risk Map” produced by Aon, showed that in 2016 of the 189 terror related fatalities, 99 died where a vehicle was used as the weapon itself, that’s 52% of all terror related fatalities in the West.

Why have Terror Groups Evolved tactics

Intelligence Organizations have had some success in targeting supply chains and disrupting attacks during the planning stage.  Therefore, Terror Groups have been forced to look for new and simpler ways to attack their targets.  Unfortunately, these successes have not necessarily stopped the Terror groups agenda to plan and conduct mass casualty attacks; many Western Countries are still perceived as being high value targets for these groups.

Conclusion

This new form of terrorism gives us all fresh challenges, not just for the Governmental Security & Law Enforcement Services and institutions, but now also for privately owned companies who more than often bear the human and financial consequences of an attack.

In the wake of the ever-changing Threat Landscape, Senior Management and the Board need to urgently re-evaluate what “Risk Exposure” they are willing to accept regarding a vehicle-based attack and moreover, what they can do to better mitigate this risk to their people and operations.

The design and implementation of a Hostile Vehicle Mitigation scheme must be completed by person(s) who have the appropriate level of specialist knowledge and experience to undertake this type of work.  Only appropriately trained specialist can undertake the Vehicle Dynamics Assessment or VDA.  This process ensures that the correct type and mitigation capabilities (PAS:68 or IWA:14) of HVM technology is specified for the client’s unique environment.

Contact us today today to learn more how Goldmark Security Consulting can help you with your security needs.

If You Find this Article Helpful Please Share It

About the Author

Mark Cavies MSyl

Mark Cavies MSyI spent 22 years as a Policeman in the Royal Air Force, the latter 10 years as a Counter Intelligence and Protective Security Specialist. He has served in several countries and was deployed during the Gulf War, Saudi Arabia, Bosnia and Iraq. After leaving HM Forces in 2008 he used the vast knowledge gained whilst serving to establish a very successful career within the Commercial Security Industry where he worked in many industry types across Europe, the Middle East and Australia. Mark is a specialist in Hostile Vehicle Mitigation Design and Implementation; he received his training at HM Governments Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI).