Sayfullo Saipov in an undated photo. Saipov has been identified by police as the driver who plowed a pickup truck down a crowded bike path in New York on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, killing eight people and injuring 11. (St. Charles County Department of Corrections via The New York Times)

Preventing lone-wolf terrorist attacks difficult, local experts say

Terrorism-inspired attacks using vehicles to plow into crowds have become a weapon of choice for lone-wolf terrorists, prompting one local expert to call it the “biggest threat.”

A rental truck drove onto a bicycle path near the World Trade Center in New York City, killing eight people and injuring several others before crashing into a school bus on Tuesday, New York police said.

Similar attacks in recent years were carried out in Nice, France; Berlin, Germany; and London, England.

Closer to home, 18-year-old Somali-born Abdul Razak Ali Artan drove into a crowd of students in Columbus at Ohio State University on Nov. 28, 2016. Artan used a knife to attack bystanders, injuring 13 people before being shot and killed by OSU officer Alan Horujko.

“That’s our biggest threat is the lone wolf because it’s like finding a needle in three haystacks,” said Timothy A. Shaw, a former FBI special agent in Dayton who has expertise in counter-terrorism operations.

“This type of attack would be very difficult to prevent unless you have intelligence information that this person is going to do this, unless you know who this person is and what kind of vehicle they are driving,” said Patrick Oliver, Cedarville University director of criminal justice and a former police chief in Fairborn and Cleveland, among other places.

Shaw said people should have their “head on a swivel” to be alert of their surroundings.