LONDON, UK – If you are a terrorist group aspiring for attention there is no better target than a head of state.
In my experience with terrorism, most groups or individuals aim at the lowest hanging fruit when they plan their attacks. This is why we see so many bombs (human or mechanical) which are detonated on busy streets, or in markets, schools and even funerals. The reason for this should be obvious: people in those places have neither the equipment nor the training to defend themselves.
Those better able to ward off attacks are heads of state or likewise important individuals: they have security teams keeping them safe. Still, some terrorists, like the 19th and early 20th century anarchists, did successfully take out some fairly senior individuals, such as Russian Tsar Alexander II at his winter palace in St. Petersburg in 1881.
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) was also known for aiming high on occasion.
On this day in 1991
The IRA launched mortars at the offices of UK Prime Minister John Major in 10 Downing Street: one exploded in the backyard as he presided over his war Cabinet, wounding four.
I think it is clear that it was a deliberate attempt this morning both to kill the Cabinet and to do damage to our democratic system of government.UK PM John Major
Some officials said they were appalled that such an attack could be launched from a prime tourist site only 150 yards from the Prime Minister’s office. UK officials were convinced that the tactic used, mortars with delayed or remote-control mechanisms, pointed to the IRA even though it had not used mortars outside of Northern Ireland before.
There is an adage that says you should try to achieve the highest goal even if you fall short. The IRA seems to have adopted that practice on several occasions.
Read more Today in Terrorism
On May 31, 1906 a Spanish anarchist threw a bomb hoping to hit King Alfonso XIII, killing 24 and wounding more than 100.
On May 30, 2009 two pamphlet-bombs exploded outside an Ecuadorian TV station and ministry: no victims or significant damage ensued.
On May 29, 2016 35 civilians were wounded in an ISIS attack using rockets containing chlorine gas in Iraq’s Nineveh Province.