Thursday’s attack in Barcelona is part of a growing number of incidents in which vans have been used to kill civilians.
In July 2016, 84 people were killed and more than 200 wounded in Nice, when a 20-ton truck ploughed into crowds gathered to celebrate Bastille Day in the French Riviera town.
ISIL claimed responsibility.
A festive gathering was also the target of a December 2016 attack in Berlin, when a tractor-trailer rammed crowds at a popular Christmas market.
Back in 2010, Al-Qaeda had called for the use of vehicles to “mow down the enemies of Allah”, using speed for “maximum carnage”.
It was a low-tech strategy employed in March by Khalid Masood when he drove into pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge.
Also in Stockholm, where an extremist sympathiser barrelled a stolen beer truck into shoppers on a busy street, killing 4 and injuring 15.
Ironically the trend may result from improved security within Europe, as terrorists turn in desperation to cruder but less preventable means of mass devastation.
As the June attack on London’s Borough Market demonstrated, however, less sophisticated does not mean less effective.
Welshman Darren Osborne proved that it’s not just Islamist terrorists attracted by this tactic when he drove a van into pedestrians near a London mosque.