April 23, 2018 10:49 pm
Updated: April 24, 2018 9:44 am

‘Vehicular attacks’ a trend, Canadian intelligence report says

Video shared to social media captures the dramatic moments Toronto police confront a man suspected of plowing into pedestrians with a van. The video shows the man repeatedly pull an object from behind his back before being apprehended.

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The attack that killed 10 and injured 15 in Toronto was the latest in which a vehicle was allegedly used as a weapon, in what a Canadian intelligence document describes as a “trend.”

The United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Germany and Spain have all suffered “vehicular attacks” that have injured and killed hundreds, and Canada was struck in 2014 and 2017.

“Vehicles are easy to obtain, the intentions to conduct an attack are difficult to detect, and they can amass casualties in a short period,” according to a report by the government’s threat assessment agency.

WATCH: Terrorism expert and University of Alberta professor John McCoy talks about vehicles increasingly being used as weapons. 

It remains unclear why a man allegedly plowed a Ryder rental van into pedestrians along a one-kilometre stretch of Toronto’s busy Yonge Street on Monday afternoon, but the tactic is all too familiar.

Europe has recently experienced several such attacks, which often make use of rental trucks to target crowds on promenades, sidewalks and bridges.

During Bastille Day celebrations in Nice in 2016, a Tunisian man drove a cargo truck into crowds, killing 84. In the U.K., Khalid Masood rammed pedestrians on Westminster Bridge last March.

READ MORE: Alek Minassian suspected driver in Toronto van attack that killed 10, injured 14

The following month, more than a dozen died, including a Canadian, when Younes Abouyaaqoub drove a van into crowds at Barcelona’s pedestrian mall, La Rambla. It was the seventh such attack in Europe in a year.

Three attackers struck pedestrians on the London Bridge last June 3 before exiting the vehicle and stabbing people in an attack claimed by ISIS. Darren Osborne drove a van into worshippers leaving London’s Finsbury Park mosque on June 19, injuring 10 and killing one.

Last August, a woman was killed and 19 were injured when a car rammed demonstrators protesting against an alt-right rally in Charlottesville, Va.

The tactic came to Edmonton on Sept. 30 when Abdulahi Hasan Sharif allegedly rammed a police officer before driving a rented truck at pedestrians, injuring five. An ISIS flag was found in his car.

WATCH: Aerial video shows multiple scenes where van struck pedestrians in Toronto attack

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told reporters there appeared to be no “national security connection” to the deaths in Toronto, although Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said it was too soon to rule anything out.

Police have arrested Alek Minassian, a 25-year-old resident of Richmond Hill, Ont. Saunders did not respond to questions about his motive but said there was no indication as yet that it was a hate crime.

Al Qaida began encouraging such attacks in 2010 but ISIS later adopted the method, inciting its followers in a September 2014 address to select a victim and “run him over with your car.”

The ISIS propaganda arm Rumiyah later suggested using trucks “to target large outdoor gatherings, crowded streets, outdoor markets, festivals, parades and political rallies,” the report by the federal government’s Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre said.

Stewart.Bell@GlobalNews.ca

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