In Truck Attack in Nice, Mainstay of Commerce Reinvented as Tool of Death

Thomas Joscelyn
15th July 2016 - Quoted by Rukmini Callimachi - The New York Times

More than five years ago, Al Qaeda called on its followers to use cars as tools of terror. Soon after, the terrorist group that had brought down the twin towers scrapped the idea, feeling that the tactic was too indiscriminate, too likely to kill Muslims.

But the idea of the car as a weapon was revived by the Islamic State shortly after it broke with Al Qaeda in 2014 following years of discord over the Islamic State’s brutal methods.


Yet when a copy of the magazine made its way to Osama bin Laden, then the leader of Al Qaeda, he took exception to the article, according to files recovered in his compound in Pakistan, said Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who has spent years tracking the terrorist group. He said that bin Laden worried that using a car as a weapon would lead to indiscriminate violence, possibly killing Sunni Muslims, the very category the group was trying to win over.

“You see a desire over time to calibrate their terrorism to be more targeted and to have a specific message,” Mr. Joscelyn said, describing Qaeda tactics since the coordinated attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. By contrast, the message of the Islamic State is to “kill anywhere and everywhere,” he said.


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al-qaeda, isis, nice, radicalization, terror-attack