On Oct. 31, 2017, New York witnessed its greatest terror attack since 9/11. A 29-year-old male by the name of Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov drove a truck onto a bike path killing 8 people and injuring more than 12 on Halloween. He was shot and apprehended by a member of the New York Police Department and is “somewhat” cooperating with authorities, according to a law enforcement official. Saipov reportedly confessed his actions were inspired by an ISIS propaganda video featuring it’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Saipov came to the U.S. legally in 2010 on a diversity immigrant visa from Uzbekistan. He allegedly was radicalized on American soil, with no prior known ties to terrorism. About 6 months ago, he began working for Uber as a driver in New Jersey, where he resided with his wife and 3 children. The only criminal records belonging to Saipov have been traffic violations in 3 different states, including an arrest for not appearing in court for a misdemeanor charge.
Saipov had planned the attack out for over a year. He decided to use a truck to inflict maximum damage to civilians, and chose the date because of the large amounts of foot traffic on Halloween, officials said. Saipov was linked to a large array of ISIS related material on his social media account, including approximately 90 videos and 4,00 photographs of propaganda being found on his phone. Among the fatalities, 5 were from Argentina, celebrating their 30th anniversary of high school graduation.
“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”, said John Miller, NYPD deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism.
As America looks to prevent future atrocities similar to this, it is important to note that in 2014, an ISIS spokesman urged this upon Muslims- “If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman or any of their allies. Smash his head with a rock or slaughter him with a knife or run him over with your car or throw him down from a high place or choke him or poison him.” Since then, ISIS has taken responsibility for an increase in attacks through the use of motor vehicles. It is essential that authorities consider this, along with the current vetting process of visa recipients, when taking future steps of precautionary measures to avoid more tragedies of this kind.