Speaker: Veilleux-Lepage (Georgia State University)
Date: 28 February 2019
SMA hosted a speaker session presented by Dr. Yannick Veilleux-Lepage (Georgia State University) as a part of its SMA DHS Speaker Series. Dr. Veilleux-Lepage began by stating that using vehicle ramming attacks (VRAs) is not a new tactic, nor is it limited to individuals of a single ideology. He discussed the origin of vehicle ramming and stated that there are three distinctive groups that have adopted this technique: Salafi jihadists, far-right extremists, and Palestinian nationalists. He then presented three research questions: 1) How did VRA and its adaptations emerge?; 2) How did the technique of VRA spread?; and 3) What explains the adoption of VRA? Dr. Veilleux-Lepage explained his two hypotheses regarding how terrorist innovation occurs: 1) “Terrorist innovation is motivated by problem solving intended to overcome constraints in the security environment and the competitive relationship with adversaries;” and 2) “Adoption is far more likely than innovation.” He added that innovation and adoption are sensitive to three conditions: feasibility, legitimacy, and effectiveness. He then discussed his data collection process and criteria for inclusion. Next, Dr. Veilleux-Lepage focused on VRA in Israel. He explained that military and law enforcement were originally the most common targets, but once individuals recognized that civilian attacks would result in more media attention, terrorists began primarily targeting civilians. He also explained the reasoning behind the change in frequency of attacks over time, identified early jihadi-Salafist adopters of VRA, and spoke about jihadi-Salafi propaganda portraying vehicles designed for attacks. To conclude, Dr. Veilleux-Lepage discussed the principal targets, regional distribution, and legitimization of VRA by far-right extremists.
To access an audio recording of this presentation, please email Ms. Nicole Peterson (firstname.lastname@example.org).