August 9, 2017: Car ramming in France

On this day in 2017, an ISIS-inspired Islamist terrorist drove over French soldiers in a Paris suburb injuring six before he was arrested following a police chase.

Sometimes I wonder if terrorism is plummeting to the level of lowest common denominator

The term rocket science gets used a lot these days. It can refer to two things, primarily, depending on the sentence structure. ‘Rocket science’ in its purest form means something that is really, really complicated, like, oh I dunno… rocket science. Carried out by… rocket scientists.

Then there is the other use as in ‘it isn’t exactly rocket science, is it?’ This modern usage is found when someone is trying to demonstrate that something is so easy to achieve that there is no need to be a PhD in astrophysics.

This same dichotomy applies to terrorism. Some attacks are indeed akin to rocket science: 9/11 would qualify. Getting 19 hijackers on to four aircraft on the same day must have been extremely difficult.

On the other hand there are attacks that are anything but ‘rocket science’. These involve truly simple targets and/or very simple MOs. Like today’s featured incident.

On this day in 2017

On this day in 2017 a driver plowed his vehicle into a military patrol as the soldiers were walking to their vehicles in a Paris suburb. Six soldiers were injured in this attack, the sixth such one on French military forces since 2015.

Police later shot, wounded and arrested a man after a dramatic car chase along a motorway in the north of the country. A 36-year-old Algerian national, Hamou Benlatrèche, was charged with attempted murder and terrorism: he had expressed an ‘interest’ in Islamic State (ISIS).

Of course vehicle ramming attacks have become commonplace these days. It is not hard to understand why: vehicles are ubiquitous and can do a lot of damage. Groups such as ISIS regularly encourage such plans.

And they are certainly not rocket science.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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