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Truck attacks – a frightening tool of terror, with a history

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It used to be that we worried about truck bombs. Now we have to worry about trucks used as weapons, writes Peter Bergen

Terror groups have urged this kind of attack, and some had been carried out before Nice, he writes

Editor’s Note: Peter Bergen is CNN’s national security analyst, a vice president at New America and a professor of practice at Arizona State University. He is the author of “United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists.” This article has been updated to include December’s attack in Berlin.

CNN —  

It used to be that we worried about truck bombs. Now we have to worry about trucks used as weapons.

The tactic has been adopted by jihadist terrorists in the West, including in the United States, but fortunately the lethality of these attacks had been relatively low – until July’s attack in Nice that killed at least 84.

In December, 12 people were killed when a tractor-trailor plowed into a crowd at a Berlin Christmas market, in an act that ISIS claimed it inspired.

The tactic has been a long time coming.

Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch encouraged its recruits in the West in its 2010 webzine, Inspire, to use trucks as a weapon. An article headlined “The Ultimate Mowing Machine” called for deploying a pickup truck as a “mowing machine, not to mow grass but mow down the enemies of Allah.”