March 3, 2006 | SUV attack in North Carolina

On this day in 2006 Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar drove a rented Jeep through a crowd at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Why try to gain access to complicated terrorist weaponry when four wheels will do?

NORTH CAROLINA, USA — We have all heard of ‘road rage’, right? This is a modern phenomenon in societies where the automobile reigns and traffic is heavy whereby frustrations over slow driving or gridlock lead some drivers to lose their temper and lash out at those they feel are responsible for making them late/wait or take ill-advised actions such as cutting them off.

The reactions range from honking to swearing to aggressive driving to worse. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA) road rage leads to injuries and deaths (in 1990 it issued a report in which it found over an unspecified seven-year period that more than 12,500 injuries and 218 deaths could be linked to these acts).

One thing we know about terrorism is that it always involves rage. Rage at states. Rage at certain groups of people. Rage at grievances, perceived or real. And this rage inevitably leads to violence. Terrorism is, after all, violent.

In this vein many terrorists and terrorist groups have opted to combine rage and vehicles to carry out attacks. The examples are far too many to list in one blog. One thing is certain: this particular method of causing death and injury is set to continue.

2006 UNC SUV attack

On this day in 2006 Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar drove a rented Jeep through a crowd at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill so he could “run over things and keep going.” According to statements taken by the police, the perpetrator stated that the US government had been “killing his people across the sea” and that his actions reflected “an eye for an eye.” Nine people were injured: thankfully no one was killed.

Ten years after the incident Taheri-azar now says he is sorry for the pain he caused (he expressed no regret at the time of trial: he was initially indicted on nine counts of attempted murder of the first degree but took a plea deal of just two sentences in August 2008).

I didn’t think I felt remorse. I would have never done it had I known better … I guess you could say I got better perspective on life.

Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar

So although some would say the driver was not a ‘terrorist’ per se, his act – a serious act of violence for political reasons – was clearly an act of terrorism. Pointing to US actions abroad is a common trope of terrorist calls for attack.

I hate to state the obvious but we can expect more incidents of this nature to occur.

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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