Starting in 2014, terrorist organizations and individuals influenced by these organizations, have encouraged and conducted “vehicle ramming” acts of terrorism. The Department of Homeland Security has recently completed an analysis of these types of incidents. The following summarizes the characteristics, observable indicators and suggested mitigations for vehicle ramming.
Commercial facilities that are usually affected by “vehicle ramming” include but are not limited to shopping centers, businesses, entertainment facilities, and lodging. Sub-sectors of these facilities are entertainment/media facilities, gaming facilities, lodging facilities, public assembly facilities, real estate facilities, and retail facilities.
Some of the recent vehicle ramming attacks include:
- Nov. 2016 – Ohio State University; Columbus, Ohio
- Dec. 2016 – Christmas Market; Berlin, Germany
- Mar. 2017 – Westminster Bridge; London, England
- Apr. 2017 – Shopping District; Stockholm, Sweden
Violent extremist propaganda encourages and promotes continued attacks by vehicle ramming.
Commercial sites should be aware of the potential of vehicle ramming attacks. The primary weapon used in these attacks are a car, van, truck, or rented vehicle. A secondary weapon are items such as explosive devices, handguns, and.or knives. If a vehicle ramming attack occurs the impact to the community and local businesses will include local events and businesses possibly shutting down and commuter services halted or altered.
Although any one of the indicators is not necessarily a sign of imminent attack, awareness of the following items should be considered:
- Theft of large vehicles
- Loading of concealed items
- Suspicious activity
- Surveillance of the facility
- Inappropriate questions about the facility
- Vehicles seen circling the area multiple times
- Vehicles seen at or on multiple days and locations–may be looking for a way to access the facility/area
- Loitering for long periods
Security planning should include
- Physical access control
- Perimeter defense—vehicle access control
- Liaison with law enforcement prior to and during an event gathering
- Assessment and/or audit of the facility
- Awareness training for security and staff
- Bollards, jersey barriers or large heavy planters
- Large stationary vehicles blocking access points
- Controlled access points small or “hard” enough to prevent vehicular access
- Natural landscaping—trees, earth contours
- Serpentine vehicle access—reducing vehicular speed
As always, if you “See Something, Say Something”. For life-threatening emergencies, call 911. To report suspicious activity, call 855-RPRT-2-S4 (855-777-8274).