Terrorism recruitment material focuses on attacks using trucks

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WGN Investigates has found the type of attack that happened Tuesday in New York has been threatened in the United States for years.

Al-Qaeda called for a similar style assault seven years ago.

In the fall of 2010, al-Qaeda's online English language magazine produced a striking story with Chicago as it's backdrop.  It described in detail how followers could achieve martyrdom by mowing down pedestrians with a pick-up truck.

Now, seven  years after that this article was published and just one day after the attack in New York,  WGN Investigates learned Chicago emergency management officials have finally decided to begin contacting truck rental firms warning them of the threat.

The story was a terrorists "how to" manual printed right across an image of the John Hancock building and the rest of the Chicago skyline.   In a feature called the “Ultimate Mowing Machine," al-Qaeda advises its sympathizers on ways to use a pick-up truck or other four wheel drive vehicle to achieve maximum carnage.

Some passages of the 2010 article contain striking similarities to the attack in New York.  The author describes, "The ideal location is a place where there are a maximum number of pedestrians and the least number of vehicles. … Narrower spots are also better because it gives less chance for the people to run away."

Truck attacks like this one are nothing new.  In July of last year, a driver killed 86 during a Bastille Day celebration in France.  Two months ago, 13 died in a similar attack in Barcelona.

In recent years: New York City police contacted 148 truck rental facilities, including Home Depot.  Officers offered points of contact and warning signs for potentially sinister customers.  The transportation security administration issued a similar warning this summer.

Chicago police haven't personally reached out to trucking firms until now.  The city's Office of Emergency Management says, “Plans are currently underway to implement a new initiative to work with rental truck companies as part of our outreach through the Public Private Taskforce.”