ADL Statement on Car Ramming Terrorist Attack in New York City

New York, NY, October 31, 2017 ... The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today released a statement from CEO Jonathan Greenblatt following the heinous terror attack in New York City. While authorities continue to investigate a motive for the attack, there are indications that it was inspired by the Islamic State.

"We are heartbroken and horrified by this heinous terror attack against the entire New York City community today, especially considering that the incident took place just a few blocks from the site of where the World Trade Center once stood. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. We are grateful for and commend the bravery and courage of law enforcement, specifically members of the NYPD, in their swift response and investigation of this attack. We stand ready to help our colleagues in law enforcement in any way that might be useful.

"ADL has been monitoring all forms of extremism in the United States for decades, including Islamist extremism at home and abroad. We have found troubling trends in the way these individuals are radicalized online and prompted to plot and commit acts of terror within the United States. The authorities need to respond appropriately after an incident of this nature, but let this be a reminder that we should continue to work proactively, partnering hand-in-hand with clergy and community leaders to prevent and intervene in the process of radicalization. 

"At the same time, we are concerned about a potential increase in Islamophobic and anti-immigrant attitudes and incidents in the wake of this attack. All communities deserve to feel safe and it would be unfair to demonize all Muslims because of this attack. This is a moment for everyone -- from elected officials to ordinary citizens -- to come together rather than allow ourselves be divided. For this reason, ADL will be vigilant and call out any discriminatory backlash against our neighbors in this moment of need."

– ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt

The following are trends ADL recorded in 2016 as it relates to domestic Islamic extremist activity:

  • First, a higher percentage of those involved in Islamic extremist activity in the U.S. tried to execute attacks rather than travel abroad to provide material support to terror organizations. This is to some extent due to increased security at border crossings and other difficulties in getting to terror organizations’ safe havens.
  • Second, more terrorists are using non-traditional weapons, including knives and vehicles (for ramming attacks), although guns and bombs remain the most common weapons used in domestic attacks. This development is a result of terror organization propaganda highlighting the efficacy of knives and vehicles, and also a copycat effect in which domestic terrorists are hoping to mimic the success of attacks abroad using those methods.
  • Third, terrorists are moving away from symbolic targets (military, government or religious buildings) in favor of targets of convenience, which tend to be unguarded public spaces (universities and malls, for example).
  • Fourth, an increasing number of extremists cite allegiance to more than one terror group. In 2016, a number of would-be terror actors cited ISIS as inspiration, but also named at least one additional organization (Al Qaeda, for example).

Source: ADL Center on Extremism

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