A terrorist attack involving a large truck, similar to the assault that killed at least 84 yesterday in Nice, France, has been a scenario law enforcement officials have long analyzed, the Los Angeles Times reports. Police have focused mostly on the possibility of terrorists packing a truck with explosives and detonating it in a crowded area. Brian Jenkins, a counter-terrorism expert at the Rand Corp., said the danger of truck bombs has existed since the 1980s.
“The use of trucks as a weapon [in and of themselves] is a more recent scenario. Al Qaeda and ISIS have both exhorted their followers to use any means to bring death. With limited access to explosives, large vehicles into large crowds are an obvious event,” he said.
In 2006, former University of North Carolina student Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar was accused of plowing a sports utility vehicle into nine pedestrians on the busy campus square to “avenge the deaths of Muslims” around the world. Several people were hurt but no one was killed. Since Timothy McVeigh used a rental truck packed with ammonia nitrate to attack a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, counter-terrorism officials have run a terror scenario with trucks in downtown Los Angeles, Los Angeles International Airport, and the Port of Los Angeles.
“Trucks have been on the radar screen since Oklahoma City and even before with first World Trade Center attack in 1993,” said Brian Levin, a counter-terrorism expert at Cal State San Bernardino. “Authorities were mostly concerned that a truck would be a bed for explosives and not so much running over people.”