|Part of a series on|
Note: Varies by jurisdiction
Note: Varies by jurisdiction
|By victim or victims|
A vehicle-ramming attack is a form of mass murder in which a perpetrator deliberately rams a motor vehicle into a building, crowd of people, or another vehicle. The earliest known use of a vehicle-ramming attack took place in 1973 in Prague, former Czechoslovakia, when Olga Hepnarová killed 8 people. According to Stratfor Global Intelligence analysts, this attack represented a new militant tactic which is less lethal but could prove more difficult to prevent than suicide bombings.
Deliberate vehicle-ramming into crowd of people is a tactic used by terrorists, becoming a major terrorist tactic in the 2010s because it requires little skill to perpetrate and has the potential to cause significant casualties. Deliberate vehicle-ramming has also been carried out in the course of other types of crimes, including road rage incidents. Deliberate vehicle-ramming incidents have also sometimes been ascribed to the driver's psychiatric disorder.[a]
Vehicles have also been used by attackers to breach buildings with locked gates, before detonating explosives, as in the Saint-Quentin-Fallavier attack.
Causes propelling the rise of the tactic
According to the American Federal Bureau of Investigation, the tactic has gained popularity because "Vehicle ramming offers terrorists with limited access to explosives or weapons an opportunity to conduct a homeland attack with minimal prior training or experience." Counterterrorism researcher Daveed Gartenstein-Ross of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies told Slate that the tactic has been on the rise in Israel because, "the security barrier is fairly effective, which makes it hard to get bombs into the country." In 2010, Inspire, the online, English-language magazine produced by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula urged mujahideen to choose "pedestrian only" locations and make sure to gain speed before ramming their vehicles into the crowd in order to "achieve maximum carnage".
Vehicle attacks can be carried out by lone-wolf terrorists who are inspired by an ideology, but who are not actually working within a specific political movement or group. Writing for The Daily Beast, Jacob Siegel suggests that the perpetrator of the 2014 Couture-Rouleau attack may be "the kind of terrorist the West could be seeing a lot more of in the future", a kind that he describes, following Brian Jenkins of the Rand Corporation, as "stray dogs", rather than lone wolves, characterizing them as "misfits" who are "moved from seething anger to spontaneous deadly action" by exposure to Islamist propaganda. A 2014 propaganda video by ISIL encouraged French sympathizers to use cars to run down civilians.
According to Clint Watts, of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, where he is a senior fellow and expert on terrorism, the older model where members of groups like al-Qaeda would "plan and train together before going to carry out an attack, became defunct around 2005", due to increased surveillance by Western security agencies. Watts says that Anwar al-Awlaki, the American born al-Qaeda imam, as a key figure in this shift, addressing English-speakers in their own language and urging them to "Do your own terrorism and stay in place."
Jamie Bartlett, who heads the Violence and Extremism Program at Demos, a British think tank, explains that "the internet in the last few years has both increased the possibilities and the likelihood of lone-wolf terrorism," supplying isolated individuals with ideological motivation and technique. For authorities in Western countries, the difficulty is that even in a case like that of the perpetrator of the 2014 Couture-Rouleau attack, where Canadian police had identified the attacker, taken away his passport, and were working with his family and community to steer him away from jihad, vehicle attacks can be hard to prevent because, "it's very difficult to know exactly what an individual is planning to do before a crime is committed. We cannot arrest someone for thinking radical thoughts; it's not a crime in Canada."
According to Stratfor, the American global intelligence firm, "while not thus far as deadly as suicide bombing", this tactic could prove more difficult to prevent. No single group has claimed responsibility for the incidents.[clarification needed] Experts see a sort of saving grace in the ignorance and incompetence of most lone wolf terrorists, who often manage to murder very few people.
Vehicular ramming has sometimes been advocated as a means to deal with protesters who block public roadways in the United States. Two police officers were suspended and fired in January and June 2016, respectively, for tweeting such advice in relation to Black Lives Matter rallies, which have sometimes been broken up by cars. North Dakota state legislator Keith Kempenich tried and failed to pass a law granting civil immunity to drivers who accidentally hit activists, after his mother-in-law was stopped by Dakota Access Pipeline protesters, and Tennessee Senator Bill Ketron did likewise after a man hit an anti-Trump group. Similar legislation has been introduced in Florida and Texas. After the white supremacist Unite the Right rally, in which a anti-fascist protestor was killed in a vehicle ramming attack, conservative media outlets Fox News and The Daily Caller deleted videos which encouraged driving through crowds of protestors.
On 23 October 2014, the US National Institute of Building Sciences updated its Building Design Guideline on Crash- and Attack-Resistant Models of bollards, a guideline written to help professionals design bollards to protect facilities from vehicle operators, "who plan or carry out acts of property destruction, incite terrorism, or cause the deaths of civilian, industrial or military populations". The American Bar Association recommends bollards as effective protection against car ramming attacks.
Security bollards are credited with minimizing damage and casualties in the 2007 Glasgow Airport attack. Security bollards are credited with preventing ramming in the 2014 Alon Shvut stabbing attack, leading the assailant to abandon his car and attack pedestrians waiting at a bus stop with a knife, after his effort to run them over was thwarted.
Berlin's police chief, Klaus Kandt, argued that bollards would not have prevented the 2016 Berlin attack and that needed security measures would be "varied, complex, and far from a panacea". The chief drawback of using bollards is that they are very expensive.
While only selected locations can be protected this way, tight bends and restricted-width streets may also prevent a large vehicle getting speed before reaching a barrier.
Modern Internet-connected drive-by-wire cars can potentially be hacked remotely and used for such attacks. In 2015, hackers remotely carjacked a Jeep from 10 miles away and drove it into a ditch. Measures for cybersecurity of automobiles to prevent such are often criticized as to being insufficient.
List of terrorist attacks
In chronological order:
- 1981 Iraqi embassy bombing, Beirut, Lebanon (not ramming pedestrians: ramming a specific building then exploding)
- 1983 Beirut barracks bombings, Lebanon (building ramming + exploding)
- 1987 Army camp bombing, Sri Lanka (building ramming + exploding)
- 1998 Temple of the Tooth attack, Sri Lanka (building ramming + exploding)
- 1999 Ibar Highway assassination attempt, FR Yugoslavia (assassination attempt)
- 2001 Azor attack, Israel (ramming people, mostly soldiers)
- 2001 Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly car bombing (building gate ramming + exploding + gunfire)
- 2002 Lyon car attack, France (building ramming + fire)
- 2004 Granby Colorado rampage (modified bulldozer)
- 2006 UNC SUV attack, University of North Carolina, United States (ramming people)
- 2007 Glasgow International Airport attack, Scotland, United Kingdom (building ramming + detonating gas cylinders)
- 2008 Jerusalem vehicular attack, Israel (ramming vehicles and people)
- 2008 Jerusalem bulldozer attack, Israel (ramming people)
- 2011 Tel Aviv truck attack, Israel (ramming vehicles and people)
- 2011 Tel Aviv nightclub attack, Israel (ramming + stabbing)
- May 2013 Murder of Lee Rigby, London, England, United Kingdom (ramming + stabbing)
- 2013 Tiananmen Square attack, China (ramming people + bursting into flames)
- May 2014 Ürümqi attack, China (ramming + throwing bombs off the vehicle)
- 2014 Jerusalem tractor attack, Israel (ramming people + bus)
- 2014 Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu ramming attack, Canada (ramming)
- October 2014 Jerusalem vehicular attack, Israel (ramming people)
- November 2014 Jerusalem vehicular attack, Israel (ramming + hitting with a metal crowbar)
- 2014 Alon Shvut stabbing attack, West Bank (failed ramming + stabbing)
- 2016 Nice attack, France (86 killed ramming people + gunfire)
- 2016 Ohio State University attack, United States (ramming + stabbing)
- 2016 Berlin attack, Germany (shooting truck driver + ramming people; 12 killed)
- 2017 Jerusalem truck attack, Israel (ramming people; 4 killed)
- 2017 Westminster attack, London, England, United Kingdom (ramming + stabbing; some victims were thrown off Westminster Bridge by the ramming; 5 killed)
- 2017 Stockholm attack, Sweden (ramming people; 5 killed)
- June 2017 London Bridge attack, England, United Kingdom (ramming + stabbing; 8 killed)
- 2017 Finsbury Park attack, London, England, United Kingdom (ramming people; 1 killed)
- June 2017 Champs-Élysées car ramming attack, Paris, France (ramming a police car; 1 attacker killed)
- 2017 Paris mosque attack, failed car ramming into crowd in front of Creteil mosque in revenge for ISIS attacks
- 2017 Levallois-Perret attack, Levallois-Perret, France (ramming soldiers; none killed)
- 2018 Toronto attack, Canada (ramming people; 10 killed, 16 injured)
List of suspected terrorist attacks
- 2017 Charlottesville attack, during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States (ramming people; 1 killed)
- 2017 Barcelona attacks (ramming people; 13 killed)
- 2017 Edmonton attack, Canada (ramming + stabbing; none killed)
- 2017 New York City truck attack (ramming cyclists and runners; 8 killed)
- April 2018 Toronto van attack (ramming pedestrians, 10 killed)
List of non-terrorist incidents
- 1973 Olga Hepnarová case, Czechoslovakian woman using a truck to go on a rampage.
- 1983 Douglas Crabbe drove a 25-tonne Mack truck into the crowded bar of a motel at the base of Uluru on 18 August 1983. Five people were killed and sixteen seriously injured.
- 1995 Shawn Nelson case, plumber using a stolen tank to go on a rampage
- 2003 A psychological unstable person kills one and hurts eighteen in Stockholm's old town. A second death later occurs in hospital.
- 2004 Marvin Heemeyer case, welder using an armored bulldozer to destroy buildings
- 2006 San Francisco SUV rampage, 2006 case of a paranoid schizophrenic man from Afghanistan using an SUV to go on a rampage
- 2008 Akihabara massacre, mass murder using a truck and a dagger
- 2009 attack on the Dutch Royal Family, case of a man driving into spectators on Koninginnedag 2009 in Apeldoorn, Netherlands
- 2010 Hebei tractor rampage, 2010 mass murder using a bucket loader
- 2013 Tumon
- 2013 Venice, Los Angeles (one dead)
- 2014 Venezuelan protests, several cases of vehicle rammings during opposition protests by government supporters.
- 2014 Sopot attack, Poland (ramming people)
- 2014 Taipei attack against Presidential Office Building, Taiwan
- 2014 Dijon attack, France (ramming people)
- 2014 Nantes attack, France (ramming people)
- 2015 Graz attack, mass murder using an SUV and a knife
- 2016 Kalamazoo bicycle crash, 5 dead
- 2016 Scunthorpe road rage
- 2017 Venezuelan protests, several cases of vehicle rammings during opposition protests by security forces or government supporters.
- 2017 Balneário Camboriú road rage
- 2017 Heidelberg attack by mentally disturbed German student
- 2017 Müllrose, Germany, drug addict kills two cops while fleeing in stolen car after stabbing his grandmother to death
- 2017 Antwerp attack, failed car-ramming in Belgium
- 2017 Guatemala City, a car rammed into a student protest: 13 injured, one dead.
- 2017 Sandy, Utah attack, car-ramming and shooting in Sandy, Utah
- July 2017 Helsinki attack, Finland, ramming people
- August 2017 Helsinki attack, Finland, failed ramming
- 2017 Sept-Sorts car attack, France, ramming a pizzeria, killing a schoolgirl
- December 2017 car attack in Perth, Australia, with one dead, four injured, three seriously.
- February 2018 car attack in Perth, Australia, with two injured, in suburban Mullaloo.
Motive not determined yet
- January 2017 Melbourne car attack in Melbourne, Australia in which six people were killed and 36 injured.
- 2017 Times Square car crash
- December 2017 Melbourne car attack in Melbourne, Australia in which 18 were injured and one person died.
- 2018 Münster vehicle ramming (ramming crowd at an outdoor café, killing three and injuring 24; perpetrator then took his own life)
- 2018 Toronto van attack (ramming people; 10 killed)
- 2018 Bessemer City, NC vehicle ramming
- Accidental vehicle ramming causing multiple deaths or injuries to pedestrians or others also occurs, although rarely. Causes of such accidental mass-casualty vehicular ramming include drunk and drug–impaired driving or driver error by elderly drivers. See also sudden unintended acceleration.
- Road rage
- Hit and run
- Vehicular homicide
- Mass murder
- Stabbing as a terrorist tactic
- List of rampage killers (Vehicular homicide)
- Issued 13 December 2012. "Department of Homeland Security-FBI Warning: Terrorist Use of Vehicle Ramming Tactics". FBI and Department of Homeland Security. Archived from the original on 28 October 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- David C. Rapoport (2006). Terrorism: The fourth or religious wave. Taylor & Francis. pp. 150–. ISBN 978-0-415-31654-5. Archived from the original on 10 December 2014.
- Israel: Vehicle Attacks – A New Militant Tactic?. Stratfor Global Intelligence
- "Mass casualty traffic incidents like Endymion's are rare, but do happen". New Orleans Times-Picayune. February 27, 2017. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
- Amanda Erickson & Isaac Stanley-Becker, How ramming cars into crowds became a major terror tactic, Washington Post (March 22, 2017).
- Keating, Joshua (5 November 2014). "Why Terrorists Use Vehicles as Weapons". Slate. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
- Jamison, Alastair (20 December 2016). "Truck Attacks: Low-Tech, Soft Target Terrorism Is Growing Threat". NBC News. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
- David Ormerod, John Cyril Smith & Brian Hogan, Smith and Hogan's Criminal Law (13th ed. 2011: Oxford University Press), p. 1138: "There are at least six ways that a person might be held liable for causing a death by driving. At the most extreme it is possible for D[efendant] to be liable for murder, as when he drivers at V[ictim] with intent to kill or do gbh (great bodily harm)."
- R.G. Smart, "Transport Related Stress" in Stress Consequences: Mental, Neuropsychological and Socioeconomic (ed. George Fink: Academic Press, 2009), p. 708: "A national study in the United States found that ... of respondents ... 1-2% had gotten out of their cars to hurt other drivers, deliberately hit other drivers, or had carried a weapon."
- Audi driver pleads guilty after video shows him mowing down man in road-rage incident in New Brunswick, Canadian Press (February 28, 2017).
- Alan R. Felthouse, "Personal Violence" in The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Forensic Psychiatry (2d ed.: eds. Robert I. Simon & Liza H. Gold), pp. 551-52: "An automobile is a potentially lethal machine. Litigation involving psychiatrists has resulted when a hospitalized patient, after discharges, caused a two-person vehicle accident with death or injuries to one or more victims ... Such cases involve three different types of scenarios. One is the vehicular crash that results from the patient's medication-induced drowsiness at the wheel ... The second scenario is a true accident but is unrelated to any prescribed medication. Rather, the patient's driving is impaired by the disabling effects of mental illness [or] recent consumption of nonprescribed drugs or alcohol. The third situation is when the patient deliberately crashes into another vehicle. Neuropsychiatric conditions that can be associated with an increased risk of vehicular crash include psychotic exacerbation of schizophrenia, profound or suicidal depression, dementia, and disturbances in consciousness, such as epilepsy and narcolepsy."
- Keating, Joshua (5 November 2014). "Why Terrorists Use Vehicles as Weapons". Slate. Archived from the original on 6 November 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- Daly, Brian (21 October 2014). "Lone wolf terrorists hard to stop". Edmonton Sun. QMI. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- Siegel, Jacob (24 October 2014). "Lone Wolves, Terrorist Runts, and the Stray Dogs of ISIS Why ISIS and al Qaeda rely on loners and losers to carry out their terrorist agenda in the West". Daily Beast. Archived from the original on 7 November 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
- "ISIS and Al Qaeda have specifically called for the type of attack that just happened in France".
- Bajekal, Naina (23 October 2014). "The Rise of the Lone Wolf Terrorist". Time Magazine. Archived from the original on 14 November 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- Mataconis, Doug (23 October 2014). "The attack on Canada's Parliament and the 'lone wolf' terrorist". Christian Science Monitor. Archived from the original on 6 November 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- Grabar, Henry (August 14, 2017). ""Run Them Down"". Slate.com.
- Kludt, Tom (2017-08-15). "Fox News, Daily Caller delete posts encouraging people to drive through protests". CNNMoney. Retrieved 2017-08-16.
- Oakes, Charles (23 October 2014). "The Bollard: Crash- and Attack-Resistant Models". Whole Building Design Guide, National Institute of Building Sciences. Archived from the original on 7 November 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
- Ernest B. Abbott and Otto J. Hetzel, "Homeland Security Begins at Home: Local Planning and Regulatory Review to Improve Security", in Rufus Calhoun Young, Jr. and Dwight H. Merriam, A Legal Guide to Homeland Security and Emergency Management for State and Local Governments, American Bar Association, 2006
- Garfield, Simon (7 December 2007). "Terrorists are foiled at Glasgow airport". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 7 November 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
- "Glasgow airport ramps up use of bollards". Glasgow Evening Times. 22 December 2008. Archived from the original on 7 November 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
- Tait, Robert (10 November 2014). "Israeli woman, 25, and soldier killed in twin stabbing attacks – Incidents happen hours apart, suggesting an escalation of recent violence". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 11 November 2014. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
- Halliday, Josh; Perraudin, Frances (20 December 2016). "What can be done to prevent Berlin-style attacks in modern cities?". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
- "Do bollards offer protection against vehicle attacks?". DW. 8 March 2018. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
- Desk, iHLS News (9 January 2017). "Vehicle Ramming Attacks - Are There Any Security Measures? - iHLS".
- Greenberg, Andy. "Hackers Remotely Kill a Jeep on the Highway—With Me in It". WIRED. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
- "Hackers take control of car, drive it into a ditch". The Independent. 22 July 2015. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
- "'Fatalities' after central London vehicle and stabbing attacks". 4 June 2017. Retrieved 4 June 2017 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- "Man tries to drive car into crowd in front of French mosque, police say". The Guardian. 29 June 2017. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
- Bartko, Karen (1 October 2017). "Edmonton terror attacks: Police officer stabbed, people struck by U-Haul". Global News. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
- Mueller, Benjamin (31 October 2017). "At Least 6 Reported Dead as Truck Careens Down Bike Path in Manhattan". New York Times. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
- "Olga Hepnarová: The Truck-Driving Mass Murderess Of Czechoslovakia". 12 May 2016.
- Lisa, Helgesson (11 July 2003). "Mordåtal för vansinnesfärd i Gamla stan". SVT. SVT. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
- "Rampage in Guam tourist district leaves three dead and 11 hurt after driver smashes car into pedestrians and slashes people with a knife".
- Gerber, Marisa. "Driver plowed into Venice boardwalk crowd 'in anger,' prosecutor says". latimes.com. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
- "Sopot: wjechał w tłum ludzi na Monciaku. Sąd pozwolił mu wyjść na wolność". PolskieRadio.pl. Retrieved 2017-07-01.
- "Five cyclists dead and four seriously injured in hit-and-run incident". The Independent. 2016-06-08. Retrieved 2018-04-23.
- Hartley-Parkinson, Richard (16 October 2016). "Shocking video of moment driver deliberately knocks down pedestrians". Metro. Metro.co.uk. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
- "Venezuela: Graban en video a tanqueta atropellando a opositores". El Comercio. 3 May 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- "Camioneta del IVSS atropelló a una manifestante en Calabozo" (in Spanish). El Nacional. 9 May 2017.
- "Tanqueta de la GNB intentó arrollar a un estudiante de la Unimet". El Nacional (in Spanish). 18 July 2017. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
- "Asesinaron a miembro de la Cruz Verde durante protesta en Maracaibo". El Nacional (in Spanish). 18 May 2017. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
- "Reportan 1 herido por arrollamiento en la avenida Francisco de Miranda" (in Spanish). El Nacional. 20 May 2017. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
- "Homem joga carro contra pedestres em Balneário Camboriú". Visor Notícias. 20 February 2017. Archived from the original on 13 March 2017.
- "German man, 73, dies after car driven into pedestrians in Heidelberg". 25 February 2017.
- "One dead, two injured in Heidelberg car attack". 25 February 2017. Retrieved 4 June 2017 – via www.bbc.com.
- Bischoff, Katrin. "Überfahrene Polizisten: So verlief die Todesfahrt von Müllrose".
- Schreuer, Milan. "Man in Antwerp, Belgium, Tries to Drive Into Crowd". New York Times. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
- "Videos muestran vehículo que arrolló a estudiantes en calzada San Juan". PrensaLibre.com. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
- Whitehurst, Lindsay (June 9, 2017). "Police: Driver stopped when she saw argument before shooting". Fox News. Associated Press. Retrieved June 20, 2017.
- "Helsingin perjantaista yliajoa tutkitaan tappona – Ajoi välittämättä siitä jääkö joku alle" (in Finnish). Yle. July 29, 2017. Retrieved July 29, 2017.
- "Friday's papers: New car attack, rail strike reactions, summer storm coming". Yle. August 11, 2017. Retrieved August 11, 2017.
- Vandoorne, Saskya; Cullinane, Susannah (15 Aug 2017). "French pizzeria rammed by car; one dead". Retrieved 21 August 2017.
- "Woman charged over deadly brawl". 7 December 2017.
- "Man charged after two pedestrians hit by car". 18 February 2018.
- "Melbourne car attack: Bourke Street death toll reaches five after three-month-old baby dies". ABC. 22 January 2017.
- CNN, Ray Sanchez. "Car barrels into pedestrians in New York's Times Square". CNN. Retrieved 2017-05-19.
- Melissa Davey, Ben Doherty and Stuart MacFarlane (December 21, 2017). "Melbourne car ramming: four people critically injured and driver arrested". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
- Zeitung, Münstersche. "Drei Menschen kamen zu Tode, einer davon war der Fahrer".
- "640 Toronto on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2018-04-23.
- Media related to Vehicle-ramming attacks at Wikimedia Commons