The 29-year old man suspected of killing eight people in a New York City terror attack had purportedly been plotting the rampage for weeks.
The Washington Post reports the suspect – Uzbek national Sayfullo Saipov – arrived in the United States five years ago. Arriving as a migrant under the diversity visa program, Saipov was allegedly influenced by Islamic State propaganda.
Emulating the tactics used by terrorists in Europe, Saipov drove a rented truck into a crowded bicycle path in Lower Manhattan.
Eight people were killed in the attack, with a dozen other injured.
Five of the fatalities were Argentinian tourists. The group were celebrating the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation.
Saipov was quickly apprehended by law enforcement after leaving the truck. A New York police officer shot the man once in the abdomen before detaining him.
Inside the cab of the rental truck, authorities found handwritten notes pledging allegiance to the Islamic State. The writing suggested Saipov believed “that the Islamic State would endure forever,” says Deputy New York Police Commissioner John Miller.
Since Western countries began military operations against the terror outfit, the Islamic State – colloquially referred to by its acronym, ISIS – has urged sympathizers to carry out attacks in Europe and North America.
A similar incident in the French city of Nice in 2016, during which the Tunisian driver of a semi-truck steered his vehicle into crowds of people celebrating Bastille Day. Almost 100 were killed, with hundreds more injured.
The Islamic State took credit for the Nice attack, as well as this week’s carnage in New York.
Witness Tahwid Kabir sent NY1 video of a man running wildly at scene of Lower Manhattan incident. An update from officials coming shortly. pic.twitter.com/fbQ8rugNvR
— Spectrum News NY1 (@NY1) October 31, 2017
“He did this in the name of ISIS,” said Miler. “He appears to have followed almost to a T the instructions ISIS has put out on its social media channels before with instructions to their followers on how to carry out such an attack.”
The terror attack is the worst New York has suffered since 9/11.
A police reconstruction of events showed that Saipov didn’t waste time.
He rented a truck from a New Jersey Home Depot outlet around 2:30pm on Tuesday. Just over half an hour later, Saipov accelerated toward a group of pedestrians and cyclists.
Continuing for as far as he could, Saipov collided with a bus before making a bid to escape.
Calls to 911 reported the fatalities, as well as a man with a gun running from the scene.
Officer Ryan Nash was first on the scene. He shot Saipov in the abdomen before arresting him.
The weapons Saipov were carrying turned out to be paintball and pellet guns.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said law enforcement now believes Saipov was “radicalized domestically,” after immigrating to the United States.
“The evidence shows […] that after he came to the United States, is when he started to become informed about ISIS and radical Islamic tactics,” Cuomo said during a CNN appearance on Wednesday. “We have no evidence yet of associations or continuing plots or associated plots, and our only evidence to date is that this was an isolated incident that he himself performed.”
Saipov is in apparently stable condition in a New York hospital. Law enforcement officials have spoken to him, although they’ve yet to divulge what, if any, information the man has provided about his motivations or connection to the Islamic State.