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Edmonton terror attacks: Terrorism has evolved from bombs and planes, to cars and knives

Click to play video 'Edmonton Police release video of terror attack' Edmonton Police release video of terror attack
WARNING: Video contains disturbing images. Edmonton police released security video showing a car ramming into a police officer and the suspect getting out of the vehicle to stab the officer – Oct 1, 2017

Not long ago, terrorists wanted spectacle. Their plots were grandiose, aiming for body count and targets of symbolic importance like the World Trade Centre and Pentagon.

But tactics have evolved in recent years into the kind of incident that unfolded Saturday night in Edmonton: a driver rams a lone police officer directing traffic, then jumps out and stabs him.

READ MORE: Edmonton terror attacks: Police officer stabbed, people struck by U-Haul

Hours later, the same suspect was spotted in a U-Haul van, which he used to mow down four pedestrians before he flipped the vehicle and was arrested, police said.

It’s exactly what groups like the so-called Islamic State have been encouraging. Retired Canadian intelligence analyst Phil Gurski said the theme has been to “just do what you can with what you’ve got.”

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“Extremist messaging continues to emphasize a move towards less complex, small scale plots, against soft targets by individuals already based in the West,” read a 2015 Canadian intelligence report.

Angie Seth chats with investigative journalist Stewart Bell who says the suspected terror attack in Edmonton falls inline with recent attacks around the world.

Click to play video 'Recent acts of terrorism involve direct, immediate acts of violence' Recent acts of terrorism involve direct, immediate acts of violence
Recent acts of terrorism involve direct, immediate acts of violence – Oct 1, 2017

Recent attacks in Barcelona, Nice and London all followed that pattern.

Police have said little about the Edmonton attacker, except that he was a 30-year-old Somali refugee and an ISIS flag was found in his car. He was expected to be charged Monday with two counts of terrorism as well as attempted murder. Global News has identified him as Abdulahi Sharif.

Regardless of his motives, his tactics are in line with current trends in terrorism.

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Al Qaeda began calling for vehicle attacks in 2010. In 2013, two extremists ran down a British soldier, Lee Rigby, near the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich and tried to behead him with a butcher knife.

An ISIS spokesman, Abu Muhammad Adnani, urged followers in September 2014 to simply select a victim and “smash his head with a rock or slaughter him with a knife or run him over with your car.”

READ MORE: A timeline of Canadian terrorist incidents

Watch below: Terrorism studies expert John McCoy says there has been “some precedence” for the Edmonton attacks that exists in previous incidents that have occurred in Canada in the past.

Click to play video 'Terrorism expert says ‘some precedence’ for Edmonton attack exists in previous Canadian incidents' Terrorism expert says ‘some precedence’ for Edmonton attack exists in previous Canadian incidents
Terrorism expert says ‘some precedence’ for Edmonton attack exists in previous Canadian incidents – Oct 1, 2017

The following month, Martin Couture-Rouleau drove a car into a group of Canadian Forces members in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., killing Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent. Following a chase, he charged officers with a knife and was shot.

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In March 2016, Ayanle Hassan Ali stabbed two Canadian Forces members at a Toronto recruiting office while saying that, “Allah told me to come here and kill people.” He is now facing terrorism charges.

WATCH: Common terrorism tactics in Europe was used in Edmonton: expert

Click to play video 'Common terrorism tactics in Europe was used in Edmonton: expert' Common terrorism tactics in Europe was used in Edmonton: expert
Common terrorism tactics in Europe was used in Edmonton: expert – Oct 1, 2017

The attack on a Quebec City mosque in January was also a relatively simple operation. The gunman, who apparently harbored far right, anti-Muslims views, opened fire in a crowd, killing six worshippers.

Pro-ISIS propaganda continued to incite for vehicle attacks as recently as Friday, when a message warned Canada, Australia and other countries that ISIS “soldiers” who would “run over people by vehicles and cut off their necks.”

In an audio address released Thursday, ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi called on his supporters to “intensify the successive attacks … Continue your jihad and blessed operations, and do not let the crusaders and apostates enjoy a good life or a pleasant living in the middle of their countries while your brothers are experiencing bombardment, killing, and destruction.”

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“I call it Nike terrorism: just do it,” Gurski said. “And this is what ISIS has been telling people for years.”

Stewart.Bell@GlobalNews.ca