NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio and NYC Police Commissioner James O’Neill have announced the identity of the suspect in a vehicle attack that resulted in the deaths of 8 persons and the injury of 12 others. The suspect is named Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov and is reported to be from Tampa, Florida. Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayer De Blasio are calling the assault an “act of terror”.
This conclusion was based on the suspect, according to witnesses, having screamed the Arabic phrase, “Allahu Akbar” – recognized as a phrase widely associated in counter-terrorism experts with scores of terror incidents involving “Jihad” motives. The term translates as “God is Great”.
The sequence of events unfolded at approximately 3:05PM when Saipov, who had rented a flatbed truck at a Home Depot in New Jersey, intentionally swerved onto the bike and pedestrian path along the West Side Highway, hopping a curb at West Houston Street mowing down multiple bicyclists and pedestrians.
An unnamed witness told reporters that “Everybody started running. Everything was happening so fast. He (the driver) kept going all the way down full speed. Thank God the trick-or-treaters weren’t out yet.”
A witness told ABC’s New York station WABC that after the truck hit multiple people on the bike path, it crashed into a school bus at Chambers and West streets, near Stuyvesant High School. Two adults and two children that had been on the bus were among the 11 injured.
Following the collision, the suspect, Saipov was seen to emerge from the truck with what onlookers and a uniformed NYPD 1st Precinct officer took to be firearms. The officer reportedly told Saipov to halt. When the suspect failed to obey the order, the officer shot him in the abdomen. Police later discovered the apparent weapons as a pellet gun and a paint ball gun.
Below is an overview image of the portion of the Westside Highway and bike path where Saipov allegedly mowed down his victims.
Saipov is hospitalized and will be questioned by authorities and booked when his condition permits. NYPD crime scene investigators examining the contents of the cab of the truck, discovered a handwritten note that officials say was a declaration of Saipov’s allegiance to the Islamic State. He had been living in Paterson, New Jersey before the attack.
The Washington Post quotes Venessa Jones, a neighbor at the apartment building in Tampa where Saipov lived, as having spoken to federal agents. “Four FBI agents came and told me he used to live here.”
Saipov, 29 years old, immigrated to the United States seven years ago from the former Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan, it has been noted, is not one of the countries that was named on President Trump’s stalled travel ban.
“This was an act of terror,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio, “a particularly cowardly act of terror, aimed at innocent civilians, aimed at people going about their lives who had no idea of what was about to hit them.”
CBS News’ justice and homeland security correspondent Jeff Pegues commented:
“On its face, this of course has the hallmarks of a type of attack ISIS and al Qaeda have called and that cities all across the globe have tried to guard against,” Pegues says. “What will likely help police in this investigation is that the suspect survived … but that is if the suspect cooperates.”
CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank said that “There has been a significant problem with jihadism in Uzbekistan.” Cruickshank went on to state that there are two large jihadi groups in the country. One of them is the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which is affiliated with ISIS, he said.
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) November 1, 2017