New York governor says truck attack suspect was radicalized in U.S.

This undated photo provided by St. Charles County Department of Corrections shows Sayfullo Saipov. (St. Charles County Department of Corrections/KMOV via AP)

NEW YORK — The Uzbek immigrant accused of mowing down people along a bike path near the World Trade Center left a handwritten note referring to the Islamic State group and had been radicalized in the U.S., New York’s governor said Wednesday.

 

Investigators, meanwhile, were at the hospital bedside of 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov, working to extract information about the truck attack Tuesday afternoon that left eight people dead and 11 seriously injured, a law enforcement official said.

The official, who was not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity, said Saipov was lucid after surgery for wounds suffered when he was shot by police.

Authorities found a note inside the rented Home Depot pickup truck.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the suspect was a “depraved coward” who tried to create terror. He gave no details on the note except to say it referred to the Islamic State.

“He was associated with ISIS and he was radicalized domestically,” he said on CNN. “It’s not the first time. It’s a global phenomenon now.”

In a number of recent extremist attacks around the world, the assailants were found to have been inspired but not actually directed by the Islamic State, and in some cases never even made contact with the group.

In Tuesday’s attack, Saipov hurtled down the 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 air guns and yelling “God is great!” in Arabic, they said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio called it “a cowardly act of terror.”

A roughly two-mile stretch of highway in lower Manhattan was shut down for the investigation. Authorities also converged on a New Jersey apartment building and a van in a parking lot at a New Jersey Home Depot.

Police and the FBI urged members of the public to come forward with any photos or video that could help.

In the past few years, the Islamic State has been exhorting followers to use vehicles or other close-at-hand means of killing people in their home countries. England, France and Germany have seen deadly vehicle attacks in the past year or so.

President Donald Trump railed against the Islamic State on Twitter and declared “Enough!” and “NOT IN THE U.S.A.!”

On Wednesday, the president took a swipe at the Senate’s top Democrat, saying Saipov came to the U.S. under a visa lottery program — “a Chuck Schumer beauty.” He urged tougher immigration measures based on merit.

Schumer, who represents New York, said in a statement that he has always believed that immigration “is good for America.”

The victims reflected a city that is a melting pot and a magnet for visitors: One of the dead was from Belgium. Five were from Argentina and were celebrating the 30th anniversary of a school graduation. The injured included students and staffers on the school bus.

New Yorkers woke to a heavy police presence Wednesday outside the World Trade Center and at other locations around the city.

Runners and cyclists who use the popular bike path for their pre-dawn exercise were diverted away from the crime scene by officers stationed at barricades just north of where the rampage began.

Dave Hartie, 57, who works in finance, said he rides his bike along the path every morning.

“It’s great to be in the city and have that kind of peace,” he said. As for the attack, he said, “It’s the messed-up world we live in these days. Part of me is surprised it doesn’t happen more often.”

Law enforcement officials who were not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity said the slight, bearded attacker is from heavily Muslim Uzbekistan and came to the U.S. legally in 2010. He has a Florida driver’s license but may have been staying in New Jersey, they said.

Records show Saipov was a commercial truck driver who formed a pair of businesses in Ohio. He had also driven for Uber.

Uber driver, Uzbekistan native: A look at NYC attack suspect

NEW YORK - The man who police say transformed a New York City bike path into a terror scene was an Uzbekistan native who made 1,400 trips as an Uber driver and formed two commercial truck businesses.

A family friend called Sayfullo Saipov hard-working and neighbors said he would play with the children in a Florida apartment complex. President Trump derided the suspect as “sick and deranged.”

Details of the life of the suspect — who had no known social media accounts — has just begun to emerge in the hours after Tuesday’s attack that killed eight people and injured at least 11.

Here’s what is known so far:

A YOUNG IMMIGRANT

Officials who were not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on the condition of anonymity identified Saipov as the attacker and said he is 29 and originally from Uzbekistan.

He came to the U.S. legally in 2010, the officials said, and it is believed that he lived first in Ohio after his arrival.

An acquaintance, Dilnoza Abdusamatova, said Saipov briefly stayed with his family in a Cincinnati suburb upon immigrating.

“He always used to work,” Abdusamatova told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “He wouldn’t go to parties or anything. He only used to come home and rest and leave and go back to work.”

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DRAWN TO FLORIDA

Authorities said Saipov had a Florida driver’s license and some public records showed an address for him at a Tampa apartment complex.

Residents at that complex said FBI agents came by Tuesday evening and conducted interviews.

Michael Roberts, 30, an overnight shift worker, said he was asleep when the agents showed up at about 5:30 p.m. but that they interviewed his cousin. He said both he and his cousin had moved in only a week ago and had never heard of Saipov.

A friend who met Saipov in Florida, Kobiljon Matkarov, told The New York Times and the New York Post that he seemed like a “very good guy.”

“My kids like him too. He is always playing with them,” Matkarov told the Post.

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NEW JERSEY TIES

Officials said Saipov was living recently in New Jersey, where he allegedly rented a Home Depot pickup truck an hour before driving it onto the bike path.

On Tuesday night, police investigating the deadly rampage surrounded a white Toyota minivan with Florida plates parked in the parking lot of a Home Depot in Passaic, New Jersey.

The van was parked near the company’s rental trucks.

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UBER DRIVER

The ride-hailing company Uber said Saipov passed its background check and drove for the service for six months, making more than 1,400 trips.

The company said it banned him from the service after the attack. It said it was in touch with the FBI and offered its assistance and that it was reviewing Saipov’s driving history but found no related safety reports.

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COMMERCIAL TRUCK DRIVER

Records show Saipov was a commercial truck driver who formed a pair of businesses in Ohio.

The first business, Sayf Motors Inc., used the address of a family friend near Cincinnati with whom Saipov had stayed for a couple of weeks after his arrival in the country.

The second, Bright Auto LLC, used an address near Cleveland.

A trucking industry website listed Saipov at a Paterson, New Jersey, address that authorities were searching Tuesday night. Court records related to trucking-related infractions list Saipov with addresses in Paterson and the Cleveland suburbs.

According to the records, a warrant was issued for Saipov’s arrest in April 2016 when he missed a hearing on a misdemeanor for not having the right brakes on his vehicle. He resolved the case in November 2016 by pleading guilty and paying $200 in fines and court costs.

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NO DIGITAL FOOTPRINT

No social media accounts linked to Saipov emerged immediately after the attack, but there were possible clues to his personal life.

A marriage license filed in Summit County, Ohio, lists a man by the name of Sayfulloh Saipov marrying Nozima Odilova on April 12, 2013. It lists the same Cleveland-area apartment noted as the headquarters of Bright Auto LLC.

The license lists Saipov as a truck driver. His wife is about six years younger. Both list Tashkent, Uzbekistan, as their hometown.

—Matt Sedensky, Michael R. Sisak | Associated Press

 

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