The LAPD Is Concerned About Terror Attacks on Freeways

Disagreement remains over whether it’s a real threat

Following the recent arrest of Enrique Marquez, the neighbor and friend of one of the shooters in the San Bernardino massacre, revelations continue to roll out. Marquez reportedly told officials that he and Tashfeen Malik—the latter of whom carried out the mass shooting with his wife last month—had planned a previous terrorist attack that involved guns and pipe bombs aimed at drivers on the packed 91 freeway here in SoCal.

The plan was aborted three years ago for various reasons, including an arrest of other suspected terrorists. Still, the plan is particularly chilling, since Marquez and Malik allegedly proposed hurling bombs at cars slogging through rush-hour traffic before climbing down embankments and shooting drivers stuck in traffic. The specific spot of the proposed attack hasn’t been released to the media, but Marquez said they hoped to do it where there were few exit ramps so motorists would be trapped. The two men also planned to stage an onslaught on rescue personnel.

While police and federal officials have long imagined high-profile places—urban centers, transit systems—as terrorist targets, the revelation from Marquez has spooked some, according to the L.A. Times. Some, like LAPD Deputy Chief Michael Downing, says it’s not the first time they’ve thought of a freeway as a danger zone.

“[It’s] “a nightmare that we worry about,” Downing admitted to the paper, without elaborating on how they would contend with such a situation (helicopters would likely factor in, we have to guess).

Others think a freeway assault is not realistic. Brian Jenkins of the Rand Corporation says jihadists are seeking people “in confined environments, not behind metal.”