Prosecutors say NYC terror attack suspect ‘consumed by hate,’ asked for ISIS flag
Federal prosecutors said Wednesday that Sayfullo Saipov was “consumed by hate and a twisted ideology” when he ran down dozens of people on a New York City bike path, killing eight people and injuring 12 others.
Saipov, 29, was charged with providing material support to a terrorist group and committing violence and destruction of motor vehicles in Tuesday’s attack, in which he drove a rented Home Depot truck down the path near the World Trade Center site.
Law enforcement officials described the initial charges as “holding charges,” meaning that more are expected to be filed.
Saipov appeared in the New York federal courthouse Wednesday evening in a wheelchair. He was handcuffed and his feet were shackled. Saipov’s lawyers said they were not seeking bail. and the accused did not enter a plea. Judge Barbara Moses set his next court date for Nov. 15.
The complaint says Saipov watched ISIS videos on his cellphone and picked Halloween for the attack on a bike lane in lower Manhattan because he knew more people would be out on the streets.
Afterward, as he lay wounded in the hospital, he asked to display the ISIS flag in his room and “stated that he felt good about what he had done,” prosecutors said in court papers.
A law enforcement source confirmed to Fox News that Saipov had been interviewed in his hospital bed and described the suspect as “cooperative.” The source added Saipov had not shown remorse for the attack, but stopped short of saying he had bragged about it.
The FBI announced later Wednesday that it was seeking a second person of interest, 32-year-old Mukhammadzoir Kadirov, for questioning in relation to the attack. FBI sources told Fox News Kadirov, who is also from Uzbekistan, had been located but was not in custody.
Saipov left behind knives and a note, handwritten in Arabic, that included Islamic religious references and said “it will endure” — a phrase that commonly refers to ISIS, FBI agent Amber Tyree said in court papers.
When questioned, Saipov said he had been inspired by ISIS videos and began plotting an attack about a year ago, deciding to use a truck about two months ago, Tyree said. Saipov even rented a truck on Oct. 22 to practice making turns, Tyree said.
John Miller, deputy New York police commissioner for intelligence, said Saipov “appears to have followed, almost exactly to a T, the instructions that ISIS has put out.”
In the past few years, ISIS has exhorted followers online to use vehicles, knives or other close-at-hand means of killing people in their home countries. England, France and Germany have all seen deadly vehicle attacks since mid-2016.
A November 2016 issue of the group’s online magazine detailed features that an attack truck or van should have, suggested renting such a vehicle and recommended targeting crowded streets and outdoor gatherings, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, a militant-monitoring agency.
Carlos Batista, a neighbor of Saipov’s in Paterson, N.J., said he had seen the suspect and two friends using the same model of rented truck several times in the past three weeks.
It was not clear whether Saipov had been on authorities’ radar. Miller said Saipov had never been the subject of a criminal investigation but appears to have links to people who have been investigated.
In Tuesday’s attack, Saipov drove his speeding truck for nearly a mile along a bike path, running down cyclists and pedestrians, then crashed into a school bus, authorities said. He was shot in the abdomen after he jumped out of the vehicle brandishing two air guns, one in each hand, and yelling “Allahu Akbar”, they said.
Saipov lived in Ohio and Florida before moving to New Jersey around June, authorities said.
Birth records show he and his wife had two daughters in Ohio, and a neighbor in New Jersey said they recently had a baby boy.
Saipov was a commercial truck driver in Ohio. More recently, he was an Uber driver.
In Ohio, Saipov was an argumentative young man whose career was falling apart and who was “not happy with his life,” said Mirrakhmat Muminov, a fellow truck driver from heavily Muslim Uzbekistan.
Saipov lost his insurance on his truck after his rates shot up because of a few traffic tickets, and companies stopped hiring him, said Muminov, 38, of Stow, Ohio. Muminov said he heard from Saipov’s friends that Saipov’s truck engine blew a few months ago in New Jersey.
Muminov said Saipov would get into arguments with friends and family, tangling over even small things, such as going to a picnic with the Uzbek community.
“He had the habit of disagreeing with everybody,” Muminov said.
He said he and Saipov would sometimes argue about politics and world affairs, including Israel and Palestine. He said Saipov never spoke about ISIS, but he could tell his friend held radical views.
Fox News’ Catherine Herridge and the Associated Press contributed to this report.