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"It seemed inevitable", homeland security expert says of NYC attack

Posted at 6:41 PM, Nov 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-01 18:41:50-04

Terrorists using vehicles to attack large groups of people in public spaces is a recent trend noticed by homeland security expert Steven MacMartin from Medaille College. But the former homeland security special agent said these type of attacks are nearly impossible to prevent.

"[Terror groups] have gone away from idea of sophisticated or difficult to get weapons, to the idea of something that almost anyone and provides them the opportunity to commit a terrorist attack," he explained.

The fact that rental trucks are easier to access than firearms, explosive materials and other weapons works against law enforcement, MacMartin said.

"Difficult to protect public areas," he said. "Difficult to predict the area that's going to be attacked. Difficult to keep somebody from renting a truck. And almost impossible to indetify somebody who wants to do it. You've got a whole string of difficult impossibilities there that really open up the chance of an attack."

7 Eyewitness News reached out to several truck rental companies to see how easy it actually is to get access to a vehicle.

Penske cross checks its renters with a watch list it buys from a third-party service. Penske and U-Haul both work actively with federal and local law enforcement agencies to try and prevent these situations in the first place.

Home Depot says it is cooperating with authorities in the investigation into Tuesday's attack. A Home Depot truck was used to drive through crowds of people.