London Attack Highlights Threat From “Low-Tech” Weapons
The terrorist attack in London on June 3 highlights the continuing threat from “low-tech,” unsophisticated weapons such as vehicles and knives. Although there are no specific threats to New Jersey, these types of attacks require little preparation and could be conducted with little or no warning. Last week’s attack in London follows vehicle rammings at Westminster Bridge in London in May; in Stockholm, Sweden, in April; at a Christmas market in Berlin in December; on the campus of Ohio State University in November; and at a Bastille Day celebration in Nice, France, last July. ISIS and al-Qa’ida have encouraged their followers to attack where they are, with whatever weapons they can acquire. Last week, a pro-ISIS message encouraged its readers to kill civilians, with a caption reading, “Run them over by vehicles,” and showing an image with a truck, a knife, and a handgun (see photo).
The scenario for the attack on London Bridge and at Borough Market was similar to those of the attacks at Westminster Bridge and Ohio State University. In each case, the attackers drove a vehicle into pedestrians, then got out of the vehicle and began stabbing people. These multi-phase attacks extend the incident, thus increasing the number of casualties and amplifying the terror effect.
London Update: Police “Increasingly Confident” There Were Only Three Attackers
London police say they are “increasingly confident” that the three suspects who were shot dead at the scene of the London Bridge attack were the only perpetrators. Police have not yet released their identities. Investigators are continuing to learn more about the attackers, their connections, and any assistance or support they had. Searches are ongoing in East London, and 11 suspects are in custody—seven of whom are women. Police have confirmed that the vehicle used in the attack, a white Renault van (see photo), was recently rented by one of the attackers.
The incident began on the night of June 3, when the van ran into pedestrians on London Bridge. It was then abandoned, as the attackers, armed with knives, got out of the vehicle, continued into the Borough Market area, and stabbed several people. The attackers were then confronted by police officers, who shot and killed all three of them. The attackers were wearing fake suicide vests.
Seven people were killed, in addition to the three attackers. Of the 48 people wounded, 36 remain hospitalized, 21 of whom are in critical condition.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that it was carried out by “fighters of the Islamic State.” Investigators have not yet determined to what extent, if any, ISIS directed or enabled the attack.
Tairod Pugh Sentenced to 35 Years in Prison
Tairod Pugh, a former US Air Force mechanic who was arrested in Asbury Park (Monmouth County) in January 2015 for attempting to provide material support to ISIS, was sentenced in federal court in Brooklyn last week to 35 years in prison. His conviction, in March 2016, was the first in a trial by jury for attempting to travel to Syria to join ISIS. Pugh’s military experience, which dated back more than 25 years, would have been of limited value to ISIS. However, his experience as an aircraft mechanic and an avionics technician was current, and could have been of value to the group in planning a terrorist attack.