No one should be surprised by Tuesday’s terrorist attack in New York City.
As we’ve seen in Jerusalem, Nice, Berlin, London, Stockholm, and Barcelona, it’s exceptionally difficult to prevent terrorists from using vehicles to commit murder, and so we will have to think long and hard about means we can use to counter this threat.
The challenge here isn’t just that vehicles are readily accessible and capable of causing immense physical carnage, it’s that vehicle-based plots are very difficult to detect.
Consider the contrast with an explosives-based plot.
Before he or she can carry out a bomb attack, an individual must research how to build a viable device, acquire the components and material to construct that device, then detonate it effectively. Each of these steps is technically complicated and affords different opportunities for intelligence service detection.
Conversely, a vehicle attacker needs only a matter of minutes to acquire their vehicle and then use it to inflict mayhem. While the potential casualties of a major explosive detonation are higher than a vehicle attack, terrorists will take what they can get.
That preference for maximized flexibility is at the heart of Islamic State attack plotting and it has encouraged other groups such as al Qaeda to follow in the same vein.
Still, we do have untapped tactics with which to defeat vehicle attacks.
Source: Washington Examiner