|Tuesday's weapon [Image Source]|
An article by Rukmini Maria Callimachi in yesterday's New York Times ["What New York Attack Suspect’s Words May Say About ISIS Ties"] offers some answers. She's a staff reporter at the Times, focusing on Islamic extremism.
Her analysis is based on detailed guidance published in the English-language ISIS online magazine, November 2016 edition. [There's a useful summary here: "New Islamic State Rumiyah Magazine Details Tactics for Jihadis in the US" Terror Trends Bulletin, November 12, 2016]
It provides a kind of Deadly Dummy's Guide for aspiring terrorists preparing to use a vehicle to wreak havoc on innocent people - referred as to "enemies of Allah" in the not-so-subtle language of this widely-distributed and easily-accessible journal. There are four principal stages to the carnage they advocate:
- Keep driving the car or truck for as long as possible. "To ensure the most carnage", it advises, don't exit the vehicle during the attack. Stay inside, "driving over the already harvested kuffar". (That word means infidels, unbelievers and refers to almost everyone on earth.) "Continue crushing their remains until it becomes physically impossible to continue by vehicle.”
- When the vehicle has been used to the full, move on to other weapons. Guns and knives are top of the list.
- Ensure the public understands that the killing comes from the perpetrator's fealty to ISIS. The article tells the murder-minded attacker to write a note on paper, including the specific message that “The Islamic State will remain”. It's a slogan with roots in the Islamic doctrine of "baqiya". Then to throw the paper sheets out of the vehicle so they can be found and read after the murders have been done.
- Record an oath of allegiance - either audio or video - addressed to an individual along the lines of how "early Muslims pledged fealty to the Prophet Muhammad, and later to the caliphs that succeeded him". Murderers inspired by ISIS are told to pledge to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Husseini al-Qurayshi. He's the figure described by the NYTimes ["U.S. Actions in Iraq Fueled Rise of a Rebel", August 10, 2014] as "a street thug" when American forces first apprehended him in 2004 and who has gone on to become "the self-appointed caliph of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and the architect of its violent campaign to redraw the map of the Middle East."
|From the ISIS website: A user's manual for mass-murderers [Image Source]|
As the guidelines say, he was ready to move on to knives - a bag in his possession contained three of them. He flung pages from the window of his rented truck which claimed an affiliation with ISIS (who returned the compliment last night, saying the killings were theirs). And many photos of Abu Bakr were on his phone. An oath of allegiance will probably show up soon.
There's no book of guidelines for victims. We're all left to rely on common sense. The problem in the case of lethal rammings - as we have learned to our sorrow in Israel where we don't lack terrorists and victims - is that their vehicles rarely come with signs on them saying "I look innocent enough but I am planning to murder you and anyone else I can."
Trying to figure out what life-affirming, cultured and non-racist societies ought to do to safeguard innocent people from the lunacy of the rammers (and shooters and stabbers) is never going to be easy or elegant, and will require a much deeper understanding of what brings Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipovs into our midst than almost every society on earth is willing to try to achieve.