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New York attack underlines vulnerability of soft, civilian targets

01 November 2017 Matthew Henman

The attack in New York underlines the continuing vulnerability of soft, civilian targets to attacks that require little technical or operational capability but nonetheless result in a substantial number of fatalities and generate significant media attention worldwide.

Vehicle impact attacks have been conducted in London, Barcelona, and Nice by Islamist militants in the past several months and years, as well by right-wing extremists in the US, underlining the potential for capability spread and the furtherance of these tactics and operational methods.

While the motive of the latest attack remains unconfirmed, unverified reports have indicated the presence of a note or flag pertaining to the Islamic State at the attack scene. If confirmed, this will likely be followed by a claim of responsibility by the Islamic State, although this should be treated with a degree of scepticism - particularly given the as yet unproven claim of responsibility for the attack in Las Vegas.

The Islamic State is well aware that claiming responsibility for such incidents, even if the claims are spurious and subsequently disproved, will generate publicity for it and help feed the narrative it has sought to create of an enduring international threat posed by the group​ despite the decimation of its territorial holdings in Iraq and Syria.

The content from this blog post is compiled from Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Centre. To request a demonstration or for more information visit Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Centre.

Matthew Henman, Associate Director of Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Centre (JTIC), IHS Markit
Posted 1 November 2017

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