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Proposed Bill Would Help Flag Rental Car Drivers Who Might Pose Terrorist Threat

NEW MILFORD, N.J. (AP) — A proposed bipartisan bill in Congress would help car rental companies identify customers who have been flagged by authorities for terrorism-related activities.

The measure announced Monday by New Jersey Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer is named after a resident of the state killed two years ago in a truck attack in New York City.

Darren Drake
Darren Drake (Facebook)

Thirty-two-year-old Darren Drake worked at the World Trade Center and was out for a bike ride when he was struck and killed on a bike path along the West Side Highway on the afternoon of Halloween 2017. Seven others died in the attack.

Sayfullo Saipov is alleged to have used a rented truck in the attack. He was shot and wounded by an off-duty police officer and could face the death penalty when he goes on trial next year. He has pleaded not guilty to eight counts of murder and other charges, including providing material support to Islamic State group.

RELATED STORY: Lawyers For NYC Bike Path Terror Suspect Want His Confession Thrown Out

Rented trucks and other vehicles have been used in numerous terror attacks, including the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and the Oklahoma City bombing two years later, as well as recent attacks in Nice, France; London; Edmonton, Alberta; and Chicago.

The legislation, co-sponsored by Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, would require the Department of Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration to provide rental companies with information they need to "flag and stop a potential threat," according to a press release by Gottheimer.

Gottheimer didn't provide specific details Monday on what type of information would be shared or how but said it would be similar to the way the TSA checks passenger information at airports.

Sayfullo Saipov, a 29-year-old Uzbekistan native accused of carrying out a deadly terror attack on October 31, 2017 in New York City. (NYPD)

According to the FBI, Saipov's cellphones contained proof that he viewed and stored thousands of images of Islamic State propaganda, including calls to use cars and trucks as weapons in terrorism attacks in the United States.

"We are still not taking the necessary measures to respond to this threat," Gottheimer said, calling it a "glaring vulnerability."

RELATED STORY: West Side Terror Victim's Family Calls For Truck Rental Background Checks

James Drake, Darren Drake's father, said Monday he believed the legislation could save lives.

"If Darren knew that because of his sacrifice other people would live, he would be jumping up and down," he said.

The proposed legislation received a lukewarm response from the American Car Rental Association, an industry advocacy group.

"While we recognize the good intentions of Mr. Gottheimer, the nation's car rental industry continues to work diligently with all levels of law enforcement and believes that such collaboration between the industry and law enforcement is best suited to effectively prevent incidents in ways that do not telegraph what preventive steps are being taken," spokesman Gregory Scott said in an email.

(© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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