Another Al Qaeda leader called on that group’s supporters to [Aim] “for the most crowded location” and “pick up as much speed as you can” in order “strike as many people as possible.”
In 2014, Abu Mohammed al-Adani, an ISIS spokesman told supporters to: “…single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman or any of their allies. Smash his head with a rock or slaughter him with a knife or run him over with your car…”
A simple, economic and effective terror weapon
Whilst the number of vehicle ramming attacks is still relatively small, figures clearly show that they are on the rise and have become a global rather than a local problem.
One of the main problems we face with regard to the prevention of ramming attacks is their character and that of the perpetrators.
- If, in the past, terror organizations recruited and trained terrorists. Today they can (and do) encourage and inspire followers to take unplanned and random action against “soft” targets causing widespread panic and alarm along with a potentially high body count.
- Cars and trucks are readily available and common – more so than guns and explosive devices. Furthermore, a ramming attack requires no real, in-depth pre-planning and preparation and no special skills or equipment.
- The ease with which the weapon can be obtained encourages “copy-cat” operations by operatives with no known connection to terror groups or those suffering from a mental disorder.
- Statistically, the most effective and lethal car-ramming incidents occur where vehicles plough into pedestrians at public events such as open-air markets, demonstrations, access areas to sporting events, pedestrian malls etc., all of which attract dense crowds. Such venues are a prime target for vehicle terror:
- 14 July 2016 – a truck rams into crowds of people celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France, killing 86 and injuring 458.
- December 19, 2016 – A terrorist drives a tractor trailer into a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people.
- March 22, 2017 – A terrorist drives into a crowd on London’s Westminster Bridge killing four.
- August 17, 2017 – 13 people are killed and another 100 injured after a van mows through a crowd of people in a popular Barcelona tourist area.
- October 31, 2017 – Eight people are killed and 12 injured when a rented pickup truck drives down a busy bicycle path near the World Trade Center in New York.
Organizers of public events are faced with a quandary.
On the one hand, they must organize and execute an event that attracts their intended audience, provides the services intended and achieves targets.
On the other hand, they are also responsible for the safety and security of those attending the event – whether employees, participants or guests.
Any security strategy must be planned and implemented in such as way so as to achieve a balance between security and operational needs.
Many government and private organizations have devised guidelines and recommendations for implementing security protocols to prevent or mitigate the dangers of vehicle ramming attacks.
As a service to our many customers across the globe and the general public, Mifram is providing a brief overview of the main considerations contained in these reports.
We are also proud to offer our customers a wide range of vehicle and pedestrian control barriers, developed from over 50 years of experience in providing innovative, effective, reliable and cost-effective security solutions for a wide range of scenarios.
Alertness & Observation
As already said, gathering intelligence regarding a planned vehicle ramming attack is difficult.
But, if security officers are aware of the potential threats, then simple observation and being alert for aberrant behavior can assist in identifying immediate threats:
- Rental agencies can inform the authorities when a customer is highly nervous when renting a vehicle, if they want to pay in cash rather than by credit card, if the documentation they produce arouses suspicion or even if, after completing the rental procedure, they appear to be inexperienced in the operation of the vehicle.
- Event organizers should contact local police forces to see if there have been recent thefts of pick-up trucks, vans or trucks and, where possible, get identifying details of the stolen vehicles.
- In the days running up to an event and during it, security officers should be alert for people loitering outside of the venue for extended periods of time using binoculars and cameras and possible lengthy use of cell phones.
Prevention & Mitigation
- Examine traffic patterns at and near the venue site. Define and implement (with the cooperation of local police when necessary) strategies for better control of traffic.
- Conduct a risk assessment process for the event site and surrounding area. Identify potential risk areas and develop security strategies that address identified risks.
- Define and implement a pass system for all employees and vehicles entering the venue site/area. All those entering should be logged, vehicle details taken as well as other details, such as entry time and expected exit time, as needed.
- Security officers should be instructed to be on the look out for suspicious activities such as a sudden, large crowd or a speeding vehicle approaching their station.
- Install CCTV to monitor activity within the venue, at entry and exit points and around the perimeter (where possible).
- Post clear signs indicating all emergency exit points, first aid stations, security posts and, if such exist, “safe rooms”.
- Establish “vehicle free zones” for pedestrians only.
- Have specific entry and exit points for those who need vehicle access to the site (See 3). Consider the use vehicle barriers (passive and/or active)
- In the event of mass gatherings (concerts, outside markets, demonstrations) use vehicle barriers, bollards, barricades, heavy vehicles etc. to create clear “stand-off” zones and prevent vehicle access. All such measures should be strongly anchored and have a suitable impact rating.
The Last Word
The goal of an event organizer is to plan and hold a successful event, be it a conference, exhibition, rally, sporting event or open-air market, that meets its aims and goals and provides maximum safety and security for all those involved.
It is our duty, to do all in our power to have the last word and prevent terrorists and other hostile elements from disrupting the event, from causing damage, injury and death.
This is no easy task, especially when faced with many challenges and an often-tight budget.
Here at Mifram we have 50 years of experience in providing crowd and vehicle control security solutions.
Our developers and engineers, many of whom are veterans of elite IDF and Israeli security forces, have an in depth, practical insight into the world of security and use their knowledge and experience to provide cutting edge, innovative solutions that are reliable, versatile, long lasting, highly effective and cost efficient.
Mifram works closely with many governmental and international bodies including the U.S. State Department, U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines, FBI, KBR, Elbit Systems, RTA, UN, Japanese Army, French Customs, and many other national security agencies.
The company also works with leading Israeli agencies and companies including the IDF and the Israeli Ministry of Defense, the Aerospace and International Industry, Bank Leumi, Bank HaPoalim and Discount Bank, Sapir College and many other educational institutions, municipalities, and government departments and companies.
Contact us now – we will do all we can to help you choose the best solutions for your needs.