Transforming a vehicle into a simple but deadly weapon of terror — as happened to such bloody effect in Nice — is a tactic well known to intelligence agencies.
A truck smashed into revellers celebrating France’s Bastille Day, killing at least 84 and injuring scores as its ploughed two kilometres through the crowd.
In Israel and the Palestinian territories, car-ramming attacks have featured heavily in a wave of violence that has killed at least 215 Palestinians, 34 Israelis, two Americans, an Eritrean and a Sudanese since October last year.
Western authorities have had to deal with three similar attacks in recent years: two in Britain and another in Canada.
In May 2013, two Islamists smashed their car into British soldier Lee Rigby before attempting to behead him on a London street in broad daylight.
|Nice terror attack: 84 killed by lorry during Bastille Day celebrations|
Just 18 months later, a man claiming to be acting in the name of radical jihad ran over and killed Canadian soldier Patrice Vincent, also injuring a second man.
Shortly after, the 25-year-old Muslim convert, Martin Couture-Rouleau, called the police emergency line to dedicate his attack to the cause of jihad.
And in June 2007, two men in a burning jeep smashed into the main terminal building at Scotland’s Glasgow Airport. One of the men was jailed for life, with the judge describing him as a “religious extremist”.
For several years, extremist groups such as Islamic State and Al-Qaeda have exhorted followers via videos or messages to carry out such attacks using whatever comes to hand.
In September 2014, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, an IS spokesman who Western intelligence agencies have dubbed the group’s “attacks minister”, issued chilling instructions that some have since apparently followed.
“If you cannot (detonate) a bomb or (fire) a bullet, arrange to meet alone with a French or an American infidel and bash his skull in with a rock, slaughter him with a knife, run him over with your car, throw him off a cliff, strangle him, or inject him with poison,” he said.
Al-Adnani said there was no need to “consult anyone” as all unbelievers are fair game: “It is immaterial if the infidel is a combatant or a civilian… They are both enemies. The blood of both is permitted.” © 2016 AFP