Islamic State and Radicalized Attacked Seats of Government in Canada, United Kingdom, Middle East an
Today, we witnessed an attack on the British Parliament Buildings and Westminster Bridge similar in some regards to the attack on Parliament Hill in Canada in 2014.
In the Parliament Hill attack, on October 22nd, 2014, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the ISIS-inspired terrorist, shot and killed an unarmed soldier, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, at our National War Memorial, then hijacked a vehicle on Parliament Hill, and carried out a shooting raid in the Centre Block’s Hall of Honor until he was killed. It appears that the attack at the National War Memorial was a planned diversionary attack, before striking at the main target, the Parliament of Canada, and trying to turn it into a killing house.
Today’s attack on the British Parliament buildings saw a four-wheel drive vehicle plow into pedestrians and cyclists on Westminster Bridge taking down and injuring at least forty people, and killing five. Then the attacker went running off to the sound of gunfire, and made his way to the British Parliamentary estate, where he stabbed a policeman to death, and then was shot dead by police. Several other police officers were injured trying to preserve life and stop the attack. The attacker on the Parliamentary precinct grounds has been described as Asian in his forties but appears Southwest Asian. The House of Commons proceedings were suspended, and the House was placed in lock-down. Unconfirmed reports, suggest that the unknown attacker may have attempted to travel to Syria to serve with the Islamic State, and thus was likely known to British security services. But we are still at early stages.
It must be noted that the London attack appeared to show a degree of planning and coordination, and some hours later areas of London were still in lock-down. The hero of the day is Tobias Ellwood, Conservative MP, and the junior British Foreign Minister, who fearlessly performed CPR in an attempt to resuscitate the dying police officer on the grounds of the Parliament buildings. Mr. Ellwood was a former Captain in the British Army having served with Royal Green Jackets and coincidentally lost a brother in the Bali terror attack in 2002. It appears that the attacker acted alone, but we will have to wait for a thorough police investigation to see if there was a wider conspiracy and what exactly motivated the attack. Although, the attacks come on the anniversary of the Brussels Islamic State terror attacks of a year ago at its airport and subway system that saw 32 dead and 300 wounded. Yesterday, Britain joined the United States in an electronics ban in airliner cabins for passenger flights originating from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. It also comes as 68 allied countries’ Foreign Ministers and government representatives were invited to the United States to discuss strategy for the final destruction on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
The attack also has a number of similarities to previous Islamic State-inspired vehicle attacks. This tactic of driving a vehicle into crowds of unsuspecting people has been used previously by Palestinian terrorists against Israelis. Al Qaeda called for similar vehicle attacks on Westerners, in the past, but it is the Islamic State, that has made vehicle attacks more effective, and lethal. First, on the 20th of October 2014, Martin Couture Rouleau drove his vehicle into two Canadian military personnel outside a recruiting center near Montreal following an Islamic State broadcast calling for vehicle attacks on Westerners. One Canadian Forces member, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent died, and one was wounded in the attack. Rouleau was shot exiting his car following a police chase and was armed with a knife. Then two years later, on Bastille Day, July 14th, 2016, a cargo truck was deliberately driven by, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a Tunisian resident of France, into crowds in Nice, killing 86 people and injuring 434. The driver was killed in an exchange of gunfire, with French Security Forces. Later on November 28th, 2016, an Ohio State University student, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, of Somali origin, rammed his car into a group of people on the Columbus campus before exiting the car and charged at others with a knife. Eleven people were hospitalized as a result of the attack and Artan was gunned down by police. On December 19th, 2016, a truck smashed into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin killing 12 people and injuring 49, leaving 18 in a critical condition. The truck driver Anis Amri, a Tunisian, was armed with a gun and escaped. Four days later following a Europe wide manhunt, Anis Amri was shot dead by police in Milan. Lastly, on January 8th, 2017, a truck driven by an Arab citizen of Israel mowed down a group of uniformed Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers disembarking from a bus in East Jerusalem, killing four people and injuring 15 others. The Islamic State-inspired, and claimed credit for all five attacks usually within 24 hours. While the Islamic State has not yet claimed credit for today’s London attacks, it has celebrated the attacker and has chattered about it on social media feeds.
What we know of the vehicle attacks from open sources is that they have been inspired by the Islamic State and in all cases the Islamic State has claimed credit. The attackers appear to have acted alone and been self-radicalized at home. Their attacks have been carried out with a limited degree of planning and training, following-up the vehicle assault on unsuspecting crowds of people, with either small arms fire or knife attacks. The attacks have come with little or no warning and they are centered on public places and tourist/shopping areas where the attackers know that they will have a target rich environment. There have been few effective counter-measures to these vehicle attacks to date as they come with little warning, but to shoot the driver dead. They appear to all be one-way martyrdom missions. Shopping malls, outdoor markets, and tourist attractions are attacked by militants and terrorists on average every 12 days. Two of the attacks have targeted military personnel in the same way that Fusilier Lee Rigby was butchered in London outside his military base, first being rundown by vehicle, and then hacked to death with edged weapons. But in the case of Rigby it is important to note that the attack was Al Qaeda-inspired, taking place on the May 22nd, 2013, and there were two attackers at the scene who were later wounded by police, and arrested.
Finally, it seems clear, that the Islamic State and their minions are quite at home attacking seats of government as they have in Canada, the United Kingdom, the Middle East and North Africa.