On Halloween, New York City felt the city’s deadliest terror attack since 9/11. Eight people died — including five Argentinians and one Belgian man — and at least eleven more were injured when Sayfullo Saipov allegedly drove a Home Depot truck down a well-trafficked bicycle path in the Tribeca neighborhood (blocks away from the World Trade Center) before police shot him and took him into custody. In the aftermath, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio condemned the attack as a “cowardly act of terror” and vowed that New Yorkers’ resilience would prevail. Overnight, the investigation into Saipov’s actions and history turned up many clues about his motive. Here’s what we know:
How Did Saipov End Up In The U.S.? Saipov came to the United States in 2010 from Uzbekistan (in central Asia), and more specifically, its capital, Tashkent. His entry into the U.S. happened through the so-called Diversity Visa Lottery, through which the State Department grants around 55,000 visas per year. Many of these “lottery” winners hail from countries that send few immigrants to America. Since his arrival, Saipov gained legal permanent residency and lived in Ohio (Cincinnati) and Florida (Tampa). The NYPD told ABC News that, at the time of the attack, Saipov was staying in Paterson, New Jersey with his wife and their three kids, although he’s still considered a resident of Florida.
Details About The Truck And Saipov’s Occupation: Authorities believe that Saipov rented the Home Depot truck that he used in the attack. He listed “truck driver” as his occupation on his marriage license, and he worked as an Uber driver for the past six months, as CBS New York confirmed with the ride-sharing company. Uber says that Saipov passed its company background check, although he’s now been banned from using the app. Further, the company — which says that he had no complaints from passengers — is cooperating with the FBI and local authorities while providing assistance in all relevant matters, and they are further reviewing Saipov’s history.
Previous Run-Ins With Law Enforcement: Saipov was no stranger to run-ins with the law, although those mostly had to do with traffic citations, including in the states of Pennsylvania and Missouri. In the latter state, the Missouri State Highway Patrol arrested Saipov in 2016 when he didn’t show up for court on a misdemeanor charge. He later failed to show up for a required hearing, which resulted in a forfeited bond and an automatic guilty plea. Saipov’s criminal record reportedly contained no hint of violent offenses or felony arrests. Here’s his mugshot from the St. Charles County Department of Corrections (in Missouri).
An ISIS-Inspired Attack: According to eyewitnesses, Saipov exited the rented truck while brandishing imitation weapons, along with “a pellet gun and paintball gun,” while he screamed “Allahu akbar” (“God is great”). Authorities found notes near and in the rental truck that pointed toward ISIS allegiance, although investigators have not yet discovered any official ties between Saipov and the Islamic State. According to a New York Times correspondent, however, ISIS issued a call for Halloween terror attacks, yet (unusually) the terror organization has not officially claimed the attack. During a press conference, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that Saipov was radicalized in the United States.
Saipov Remains Hospitalized: After Saipov’s exit from the vehicle, officers opened fire while apprehending him. Saipov was struck in the abdomen and subsequently hospitalized. As of Tuesday evening, doctors listed him in critical condition, and he was intubated overnight, but authorities say that his injuries were not life-threatening in nature. When police interviewed him on Wednesday morning, they say he was very “pleased” and even “bragged about the attack.” The interview also gave authorities reason to believe that Saipov spent weeks planning the attack.
As always with any ongoing terror investigation, more details will likely soon surface. We’ll keep you updated as this story continues to unfold.