In a criminal complaint released last night, the FBI officially charged suspected terrorist Sayfullo Saipov, an Uzbek national who has been living in the US since 2010, with the provision of material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, as well as violence and destruction of motor vehicles.
The complaint, which mostly comprised formal language describing the nature of the criminal charges, also included previously unreleased information about how Saipov planned and executed his attack, as well as how he became radicalized.
Saipov apparently adopted his extremist political views after moving to the US in 2010.
According to the complaint, Saipov was inspired to carry out the Truck attack by ISIS videos he had watched on his cellular phone. Approximately one year ago, Saipov began planning an attack in the United States, and approximately two months ago, Saipov decided to use a truck in order to inflict maximum damage against civilians. In particular, Saipov was motivated to commit the attack after viewing a video in which Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – who based on my training and experience I understand to be the leader of ISIS-questioned what Muslims in the United States and elsewhere were doing to respond to the killing of Muslims in Iraq.
On Oct. 22, Saipov rented a truck so he could “practice making turns” — then drove into Manhattan twice on the same day just a few days before he plowed into nearly two dozen people on the Lower West Side, according to the feds and law enforcement sources. He used his E-ZPass to drive though the Holland Tunnel twice on Oct. 28, and his car was also spotted on the George Washington Bridge the same day, law enforcement sources said.
One of Saipov’s cellphones contained approximately 90 videos of ISIS propaganda. Videos ranged from depictions of ISIS fighters killing a prisoner by running the prisoner over with a tank, a video of ISIS fighters shooting a prisoner in the face, a video of a beheading and a video that appears to show how to construct an improvised explosive device. The phone also contained nearly 4,000 images classified as ISIS propaganda, including photos of al-Baghdadi and grisly images of dead prisoners.
Another phone’s search history included queries for ‘Halloween in NYC’ as well as a search for truck rentals.
In what was perhaps the most alarming detail, Saipov said his original plan was to continue on to the Brooklyn Bridge. However, that plan was thwarted when he crashed into a school bus carrying children from nearby Stuyvesant High School. After arriving at Bellevue hospital, Saipov reportedly appeared proud of the attack, and allegedly had asked to hang an ISIS flag in his hospital room. He said he had planned the attack on Halloween to maximize the number of casualties.
“Saipov wanted to kill as many people as he could,” the complaint said.
Police found a stun gun and three knives inside his crumpled truck at West and Chambers streets, along with a note praising ISIS.
The handwritten note, which included both Arabic and English, read, “No God but God and Muhammad is his Prophet” and declared, “Islamic Supplication. It will endure,” authorities said.
“He did this in the name of ISIS,” John Miller, deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism for the NYPD, said during a Wednesday press conference unveiling the complaint.
“He appears to have followed almost exactly to a T the instructions that ISIS has put out in its social media channels before with instructions to their followers on how to carry out such an attack,” Miller explained.
As has been previously reported, Saipov rented a flatbed pickup truck from the Passiac Home Depot an hour before attack. The rental was for two hours but he had no intention of returning it. He then drove into the city over the George Washington Bridge. The Feds interviewed Saipov in 2015 about his possible ties to suspected terrorists, but didn’t have enough evidence to build a case against him. He was never the subject of the investigation.
Saipov told authorities that he had initially planned on hanging ISIS flags on the back and front of his truck, but figured that would attract too much attention.
President Donald Trump, who has railed against so-called “chain migration” and the US’s diversity visa lottery program, late Wednesday called for Saipov to be put to death for his crimes.
Earlier in the day, Trump appeared to criticize the criminal justice system for not acting fast enough.
“We need quick justice and we need strong justice — much quicker and much stronger than we have right now — because what we have right now is a joke, and it’s a laughingstock,” Trump said at a Cabinet meeting.
Trump also said he would consider sending Saipov to Guantanamo Bay.
Federal agents said they’ve located a man who associated with the Manhattan man who sped a truck down a New York City bike path, killing eight people and injuring a dozen others.
Earlier Wednesday FBI released a wanted poster for Mukhammadzoir Kadirov, but authorities said at a news conference about an hour later the man had been located by federal authorities.
“We have found him and we will leave it at that,” said Bill Sweeney, the assistant director of the FBI.
Law enforcement officials said that the man is known to have been in contact with Sayfullo Saipov, the man charged in Tuesday’s attack. It’s not clear if Kadirov knew about Saipov’s plans, but they said there is nothing that indicates he may have been involved in the attack, according to NBC New York. Federal agents are also interviewing Saipov’s wife, but they said the woman has been cooperating with the investigation.
However, one of Saipov’s neighbors told NBC that he had seen Saipov driving around in a rented Home Depot truck with two male passengers.