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UNC terrorism expert: Attacks like London 'should not be surprises'

Posted June 5

Saturday's terror attack in London has affected people across the globe.

Dr. David Gray, a terrorism expert and professor at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said a main concern is the way in which the attack happened – terrorists using a vehicle and handheld weapons.

The attack unfolded over a few minutes: First, a rented van veered off the road and drove into pedestrians on the busy London Bridge. Three men wielding large knives got out of the van and attacked people at bars and restaurants in the popular Borough Market. The men killed seven people and injured roughly 50 before they were shot dead by police.

"Bad guys who want to do bad things have to resort to techniques that they can get through or penetrate the security," Gray said. "It is things like vans and knives that will get through."

A few hours before the terror attacks, Duke alumna Langley Ellmann and her husband crossed London Bridge.

"It is definitely spooky and so sad, obviously, for everyone that was there a little bit after us and was involved," Ellmann said.

Ellmann even thought about the fact that it was a prime spot for terrorism.

"When it is that close it strikes a little harder I guess," she said. "At the end of the day nobody knows, nobody can control this kind of thing and that's why it is so terrifying, so scary."

Gray said at this point, "these types of things should not be surprises."

"This is a natural progression for the bad guys...to be using or resorting to these types of methods," he said. "They put up barriers and there are a lot of cameras. There is a heavy police presence, but still, it is really hard to stop a vehicle."

Ellmann said she will not be deterred.

"You have your job and your friends and your life, and you do have to keep going," she said.

"I still think it is safe for Americans to go, but Americans have to, or anyone else for that matter, you have to pay attention," Gray said. "You've got to be alert. You're got to be aware of your surroundings."

North Carolina State University and UNC-Chapel Hill said they are not making any changes to summer study aboard programs for students at this time.


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  • Ben Hill Jun 6, 1:02 p.m.
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    I would prefer not to be attacked at all. However your comparison of the two attempted to group them both into the same category. Preventing each type of attack would require different measures. Assuming these two incidents had the same motivation is purely ignorant. I can give you odds on ignorance, if you'd like.

  • Anna Temple Jun 6, 12:46 p.m.
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    So Ben which should we rather be attacked by. A radical right to work or religious terrorist? The outcome being identical. Would you venture to guess which has greater odds?

  • Ben Hill Jun 6, 9:16 a.m.
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    A terrorist is a person who uses violence and intimidation to further an agenda or cause, such as politics or religion. The guy in Florida didn't seem to have any agenda beyond killing people he felt wronged him.

    Nice of you to make light of the killings in Florida and London to further your political agenda.

  • Zeke Reynolds Jun 6, 8:26 a.m.
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    Didn't Trump run on a promise to immediately crush ISIS?

    It's June and the attacks are speeding up, not slowing down. Turns out you can't beat them on Twitter.

  • Anna Temple Jun 6, 7:32 a.m.
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    A disgruntled workplace terrorist killed 5 people then martyred himself down in Florida. Is that the kind of terrorist you guys are worried about or are you worried about some that are thousands of mile away? America first, remember?
    That is just one of many recent local terror attacks here by amuricans agin amuricans

  • John Jones Jun 5, 9:47 p.m.
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    I thought we had ISIS under control. Isn't that what Obama said???? A JV team.hhmmmm

  • Robert Swiger Sr. Jun 5, 9:06 p.m.
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    Now we have better experts at the Unversities than our President and his team. Again the media is looking ways to discredit President Trump

  • Thomas Williams Jun 5, 8:54 p.m.
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    I'm wondering if our friends across the pond are still ready and willing to invite Muslims into their country? They have had a rough few days recently with these people. I'm wondering how long it is going to be before they get enough of these erratic and unpredictable people? Perhaps if the U.S. and the UK join together they will have a better chance at combating ISIS and other radicalized Islamic sects.