The “rise of European fascism” is behind Thursday’s truck terrorist attack that killed and wounded hundreds of people, including children, in France’s southern seaside city of Nice, says CNN’s national security analyst Peter Bergen.
He suggested that “vast waves of immigration” from the Middle East into Europe are clashing with the alleged “rise of European fascism,” producing “a very toxic mix.”
The big drivers of this are a regional civil war between the Sunni and Shiite, the collapse of Arab governments around the Middle East, you know the vast waves of immigration — the result of these two phenomenons — and then the rise of European fascism to be frank.
I mean, in every single country, including France, where the nationalist front — the essentially ultra-nationalist, proto-fascist party — is doing pretty well and I think the combination of large scale immigration and the rise of European fascism is a very toxic mix and unfortunately it will continue to produce events like what we’ve seen tonight again, and again, and again, and there are no easy fixes for this.
Using a rented, refrigerated truck weighing about 20 tons, Tunisian-born Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, 31, mowed down crowds of people celebrating Bastille Day along more than a mile stretch of Nice’s Promenade des Anglais, killing 84 people, including 10 children and adolescents and injuring 202 others. Bastille Day is the equivalent to America’s Fourth of July.
No specific terrorist organization has claimed responsibility for the attack, but various experts say it bears the hallmarks of recent assaults carried out or inspired by the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).
Moreover, supporters of ISIS and its rival al-Qaeda have cheered the Nice attack online. Both terrorist groups have urged jihadists to carry out vehicular assaults against Western countries in the event that more conventional weapons are not available.
Two years ago, ISIS encouraged Muslims to “kill a disbelieving American or European – especially the spiteful and filthy French,” using “any manner” available, reports The Telegraph.
The jihadist group suggested would-be attackers could “smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car.”
As far back as 2010, al-Qaeda also suggested turning vehicles into weapons of terror in its Inspire online propaganda magazine, saying a pick-up truck could be used as a “mowing machine, not to mow grass but mow down the enemies of Allah.”
Citing an analysis by IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre, which tracks terror groups, USA Today reports:
Vehicles have been used frequently in terror attacks in recent years. Palestinian militants have been using vehicles to attack Israelis and there have been several similar attacks in France, IHS said.
In France, two vehicle attacks were conducted in December 2014 in Dijon and Nantes that killed one and wounded 20. Another such attack wounded a soldier this January in Valence, IHS said in the analysis.
IHS warns against a possible increase in terrorist attacks against soft targets, or unprotected, mirroring the recent one in Nice.
“The high-impact/low-capability nature of the attack raises the risk of the repeated use of the tactic in France and allied countries in the coming months,” noted the analysis.