TAMPA, Fla. - Karla Matraccio worked for years as an intel officer at Centcom and currently teaches a class, with a significant part of the job focusing on terror suspects, like Sayfullo Saipov and terror cells.
"Terrorism works by inciting fear in people," said Matraccio.
The 29 year old accomplished that goal carrying out the deadliest attack in New York since 9-11. Once from Tampa, it doesn't surprise Matraccio that Saipov carried out his plan in New York, a location that would be get the maximum exposure. Her experience tells us he got the idea from the robust propaganda machine fueled by Isis.
They have their own magazine, Twitter account, Facebook, YouTube, I mean they have a lot of ways to reach people and radicalize them," said Matraccio.
U.S. officials have worked for years to try and stop this effective way of communicating and training by ISIS.
And while Matraccio said there's been some success, it is one of the biggest hurdles in trying to stop terrorists.
But Matraccio also said people need to remember,
"I think it is really important to understand someone can be a lone wolf terrorist while also operating as a part of a larger ideology," said Matraccio.
But it's why these lone wolfs, as they're known, try to get the biggest reaction. Matraccio said ISIS communication encourages followers to aim for high profile places and found that vehicles can be the most effective.
"I think that will happen more," said Matraccio.
But Matraccio said US officials are on top of it. In fact in the past few years they even focused on different car companies and let employees know what to look out for, but sometimes those like Saipov can still avoid attention.
We learned he worked as an Uber driver but did not have any complaints, and didn't raise any red flags.
"This person had a visa, they were here legally and they were not from any of the countries that we are currently concerned about," said Matraccio.
Matraccicio said there's significant resources in stopping terror attacks and it is working. But she can't stress enough, "If you see something you need to say something and a key is change in behavior. according to reports this man (Saipov) quit communicating with his family and that should raise a red flag, " said Matraccio. "And I also want to mention you always run the risk of acting on your prejudices. What you see in the movies or tv and you think terrors looks like; I would caution against that."
And while it's so natural to be scared, another way to deter terrorist attacks is to keep living
"If you allow that fear to consume you and take over and you change behavior, no one wants that because the terrorists win," said Matraccio.