The recent attack in Manhattan marked the first time an Islamic State-inspired vehicle attack caused fatalities on U.S. soil, but terrorist groups have been using the same tactic across the globe for well over a decade.
Palestinian terrorists were the first to popularize the use of cars and trucks in attacks against pedestrians in Israel in 2008. While they were not the first to do it, they were the first to consistently engage in them with repeated success. Ease of use and open access to vehicles simplified the process, and the common use of cars and trucks also made these attacks difficult to predict and prevent.
It wasn't long until al-Qaida took notice of the Palestinians' success and adopted the idea for use by its own followers. The group published an article titled "The Ultimate Mowing Machine" in its online magazine in 2010, encouraging adherents to "mow down the enemies of Allah" with pickup trucks.
ISIS also recognized the potential of vehicular attacks quickly after its rise in 2014 and 2015. The infamous ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani encouraged followers to use cars to kill victims if no other means were available.
"If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman or any of their allies. Smash his head with a rock or slaughter him with a knife or run him over with your car or throw him down from a high place or choke him or poison him," said Adnani in September 2014.
ISIS may have been the last major Islamist terror group to adopt the tactic, but it was also the one which perfected it.
Vehicular attacks caught the world's attention in July 2016, after Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a 31 year-old Tunisian national, drove a 20-ton truck into a lage crowd celebrating Bastille Day. Approximately 87 people were killed in the incident, with more than 430 injured. ISIS praised the attack and used it as an example to encourage similar attacks. The group also published a how-to guide in the November 2016 issue of its Rumiyah propaganda magazine, which offered step-by-step instructions on how to maximize casualties with trucks.
The U.S. fell victim to its first ISIS-inspired vehicle attack that same month when Abdul Razak Ali Artan, 18, ran into a crowd at Ohio State University, injuring 13. A month later, another ISIS adherent killed 12 when he rammed his truck into a Christmas market in Berlin.
Four people were killed in March 2017 during a vehicle attack on London's Westminster Bridge.
An attack with a rented van on a promenade in Barcelona, Spain in August killed 13. Another person was killed the next day in the nearby town of Cambrils.
While the Manhattan attack was the first fatal example of a vehicle attack in the U.S., experts believe it might not be the last, as terrorists continue to prefer smaller, unpredictable attacks over expensive plans which require more resources.