Sayfullo Saipov (shown), a native of Uzbekistan, is the sole suspect in a terrorist attack in New York that killed eight people and injured 12 others on October 31. All these casualties resulted from the driver — allegedly Saipov — intentionally driving a truck onto a bike path running along the Hudson River in lower Manhattan.
The slaughter came to an end only when Saipov crashed the pickup truck rented from Home Depot into a school bus, then stepped outside of the vehicle brandishing a paintball gun and a pellet gun, according to police. The location where the truck came to a stop was just four blocks north of the World Trade Center site.
Saipov was shot in the abdomen by a police officer and was transported to a hospital for treatment.
One official told ABC News that the suspect seemed “proud” of the attack.
In a meeting with reporters before a November 1 cabinet meeting, President Trump said he would consider sending Saipov to the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.
Reports from Good Morning America and the Washington Post cited a statement from a police official that Saipov had apparently been planning the attack for weeks.
“He did this in the name of ISIS, and along with the other items recovered at the scene [were] some notes that further indicate that,” the reports said, quoting John Miller, deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism of the NYPD. “He appears to have followed almost exactly to a 'T' the instructions that ISIS has put out in its social media channels before ... to their followers on how to carry out such an attack.”
The Post cited Miller’s statement that Saipov had never been the subject of an FBI investigation or a New York police intelligence investigation.
However, according to an unnamed law enforcement official familiar with the current investigation, Saipov’s name had surfaced during an earlier Homeland Security probe into some of his friends.
Fox News reported that investigators have uncovered several pieces of evidence linking Saipov to ISIS. Fox News also cited Miller as saying that Saipov, who came to the United States in March 2010 through the Diversity Visa Program, had been planning the assault for “a number of weeks.” The alleged terrorist toured the bike path area and afterwards pursued his rampage “in the name of ISIS.” Miller also cited the notes left in the truck, which contained a pledge of allegiance to ISIS. The notes were handwritten and had symbols and Arabic words on them stating that the “Islamic State would endure forever.”
Shortly after the attack, President Trump called on Congress to immediately dismantle the State Department’s Diversity Visa Lottery program.
“Diversity lottery — sounds nice. It's not nice,” Trump told reporters at the White House during a meeting with his Cabinet. “It’s not good. It’s not good. It hasn't been good. We've been against it.”
The president added, “I am today starting the process of terminating the diversity lottery program. I am going to ask Congress to immediately initiate work to get rid of this program.”
Continuing, Trump said that terrorists are “constantly seeking to strike our nation,” and that keeping the nation safe will require the “unflinching devotion to our law enforcement, homeland security and intelligence professionals.”
“We have to get much tougher,” Trump said. “That was a horrible event and we have to stop it and we have to stop it cold. We also have to come up with a punishment that is far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now."
The president added that Saipov was the “point of contact for 23 people” that entered the United States.
“My administration is coordinating closely between federal and local officials to investigate the attack and to further investigate this animal who did the attacking,” Trump said.
Authorities are sure to look at whether the suspect visited Uzbekistan since he moved to the United States seven years ago, CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank said, citing a November 1 report from the news network. “There has been a significant problem with jihadism in Uzbekistan,” he stated.
Cruickshank said there are two large jihadi groups in the central Asian country. One of them is the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which is affiliated with ISIS.
Following the October 31 attack, the Australian-based Imam Mohammad Tawhidi tweeted that he had repeatedly warned New York Mayor Bill De Blasio about the terror threat in New York City, but that he was ignored. Tawhidi accused De Blasio of being more interested in undermining President Trump than in addressing the danger of terrorism.
In one tweet, Tawhidi stated: “About #NYC terrorist attack, I personally sent letters to Mayor De Blasio online & in person about terrorist breeding in NYC. He did nothing.”
“Not only am I a Muslim Imam who understands the threat of Islamic Extremism, I also hold a certificate in counter-terrorism. Now what!?” asked Tawhidi in another tweet.
Tawhidi is a Shiite Muslim of Iraqi origin. He has been the president of the Islamic Association of South Australia since its establishment in 2016.
Photo of Sayfullo Saipov: AP Images