Born: February 8, 1988;
Place of Birth: Tashkent, Uzbekistan;
Sayfullo Habibullaevich Saipov is the man accused of the New York terror attack in 2017, is an Uber driver who lives in New Jersey having emigrated from Uzbekistan seven years ago. In 2005, he graduated from a professional college and studied at the Tashkent Financial Institute from 2005 to 2009, before working as an accountant.
Saipov entered the United States under a Diversity Immigrant Visa in 2010, and is a permanent (“green card”) resident in the U.S. He resided in Stow, Ohio, before moving to Tampa, Florida, and then Paterson, New Jersey.
He worked in New Jersey as an Uber driver for six months. Public records show he held a commercial truck license. Acquaintances said Saipov had a bad temper that cost him driving jobs.
He was issued traffic citations in Maryland in 2011, in Pennsylvania in 2012 and 2015 and in Missouri in 2016, where records showed he was driving a tractor-trailer. In 2015, federal agents interviewed Saipov about his contacts with two suspected terrorists, but a case was not opened against him.
An acquaintance of Saipov since 2010 described him as a “little aggressive”, and not very religious when he arrived in the U.S. A friend in Ohio said he was prone to getting into fights and misunderstandings. An imam at the mosque Saipov attended in Tampa said Saipov was devoted to outward observances of Islam and was very critical of American policies regarding Israel.
At Paterson, Saipov lived behind and regularly prayed at a local mosque, Masjid Omar (which had been a subject of surveillance by an NYPD dragnet surveillance program on Muslims), during the three months preceding the attack.
One of Saipov’s sisters in Uzbekistan, who was in regular contact with him, said he had recently expressed a desire to return to his home country, but that he never had any grievances against the U.S. She also said their mother visited Saipov twice, with the second visit occurring earlier that year, and never noticed any signs of radicalization from him.
Islamic State influence:
Early reports suggested Saipov was “self-radicalized”. John Miller, the deputy commissioner of the New York Police Department, said Saipov did it in the name of ISIL, a jihadist militant group fighting in the Iraqi and Syrian civil wars, and appeared to have followed “almost exactly to a T” the group’s advice on social media on how to carry out vehicular attacks. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the Trump administration considers him an “enemy combatant”.
While in custody, Saipov waived his Miranda rights and told police he deliberately chose Halloween to commit the attack and had made a test drive near the route, renting a truck on October 22 for that purpose. According to a criminal complaint, he thought there would be more civilians on the street then, and had been planning the attack for about a year.
It said he was particularly motivated after watching a video of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi questioning the American Muslim response to Muslims killed in Iraq. Investigators found other ISIL images and videos on his electronic devices. He requested to display the ISIL flag in his hospital room and, according to the complaint, “stated that he felt good about what he had done”.
Eight people were killed and 11 injured when a pickup driver mowed down cyclists and pedestrians near the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan, before striking a school bus. The driver was shot in the abdomen by police after jumping out of the truck with what turned out to be a fake gun in each hand and shouting what witnesses said was “Allahu Akbar!,” Arabic for “God is great”. Federal prosecutors have charged Saipov with providing material support to a terrorist group and violence and destruction of motor vehicles.
The Islamic State terrorist group accepted responsibility for the attack in issue #104 of its newsletter, al-Naba, and called Saipov a “soldier of the Caliphate” who responded to its call to attack “citizens of the Crusader countries involved in the alliance against the Islamic State.”
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