A man shouting “Allahu Akbar” stabbed two women to death at the Saint-Charles train station in Marseille, France earlier today. Security forces quickly shot and killed the assailant. Not long after, the Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency released a statement claiming that one of its “soldiers” had carried out the assault in response to calls to target nations participating in the coalition. The Islamic State has used similar language when claiming a string of attacks in Europe since 2014.
French authorities are investigating any potential ties between the attacker and the so-called caliphate.
Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s organization has repeatedly targeted France. In Nov. 2015, a team of jihadists dispatched from Iraq and Syria assaulted several sites throughout Paris, killing more than 100 people and wounding hundreds more.
On July 14, 2016, a jihadist drove a large truck into a crowd of people who had been celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France. More than 80 people were killed in that vehicular assault. Amaq News issued a statement similar to the one disseminated today, claiming that the terrorist who drove the truck was a “soldier” of the self-declared caliphate.
A series of other, small-scale plots have either been carried out or thwarted in France. Some Islamic State operatives have been responsible for coordinating “remote-controlled” attacks in the country. The jihadists have used readily-available social media applications and other online tools to recruit and direct individual terrorists, or small groups. One such plotter, Rachid Kassim, was targeted by the US-led coalition in Mosul, Iraq earlier this year. Kassim has been tied to multiple plots inside France. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, US-led coalition targeted key online operative for Islamic State near Mosul.]
Attacks in Edmonton, Canada
In a separate incident Saturday evening (Sept. 30), a 30-year-old man drove his car into a police officer directing traffic outside of a Canadian Football League game in Edmonton.
“The uniformed officer was standing behind a traffic barricade and in front of his police vehicle at an intersection near 107A Avenue and 92 Street, just southwest of Commonwealth (football) Stadium,” the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) explained. “Suddenly, and without provocation, a male driving a white Chevrolet Malibou crashed through the traffic barricades that were separating vehicles from pedestrians, at a high rate of speed.”
The police officer was sent “flying 15 feet through the air, before colliding with the officer’s cruiser.”
The attacker “jumped out of his vehicle and began viciously stabbing the officer with a knife” before fleeing on foot. “The officer was then transported to [a] hospital with various injuries,” the EPS said.
Later that same evening, Canadian authorities stopped a U-HAUL rental truck. “A police officer asked to see the [license] of the driver, and recognized the name as being similar to the registered owner of the Chevy Malibu,” which had been driven into the police officer earlier that night.
“The U Haul truck then immediately fled the scene, and was pursued by police officers towards downtown Edmonton,” according to the EPS. The driver “deliberately attempted to hit pedestrians in crosswalks and alleys.” Canadian authorities say that at least “four pedestrians were struck by the truck and transported to [the] hospital with multiple injuries.”
The Islamic State has not claimed responsibility for the assault in Edmonton.
The Edmonton attack is similar to others claimed by Baghdadi’s henchmen. The jihadists have repeatedly called on supporters to drive their vehicles into Western civilians. The Islamic State’s propagandists have encouraged aspiring jihadists to rent trucks to use in their ramming operations. They have also recommended using both vehicles and blades to terrorize innocent citizens. A number of men throughout West have followed the group’s advice and driven their cars or trucks into crowds. Some have jumped out and then assaulted victims with knives or swords.
The Edmonton attack, which left five people wounded, is being investigated as an act of terrorism. The attacker, who has been identified as a Somali refugee, reportedly had an Islamic State flag in his possession.
Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD’s Long War Journal.