Analysis of Low-Tech Terrorism in Western Democracies: Attacks with Vehicles, Blades and Incendiary Devices


This study explores the issue of low-tech terrorism in Canada, France, Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom from 2001 through 2017. As a descriptive analysis, this study reveals significant trends, as well as the most common terrorist groups involved in low-tech terrorism, their weapon(s) of choice, target(s) of choice, and how low-tech terrorism differs among the selected countries. Relying primarily on data from the Global Terrorism Database for incidents between 2001 and 2016, this study also explores three specific cases from 2017 that have not yet been added to the Global Terrorism Database or any other respected database. In no way does this paper intend to break new grounds in terrorism research or provide solutions to policy-makers or security services tasked with addressing these issues. Rather, the purpose of this study is to offer important contextual data and points of discussion as western nations move forward in dealing with a form of terrorism that is at times impossible to detect, disrupt and prevent.

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Research Area(s):

Security and Counterterrorism

TSAS WP17-05

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