Manhattan attack: What we know about Sayfullo Saipov and more

Eight people were killed and several others were injured on Oct. 31, 2017, in the deadliest terror attack in New York City since Sept. 11, 2001.

Suspect Sayfullo Saipov, who drove a rental truck onto a bike path in lower Manhattan, told investigators after he was arrested that he was inspired by ISIS.

Here’s what we know about the attack and the investigation.

The attack

Saipov drove a rented Home Depot pickup truck onto the West Side Highway’s bike path near Houston Street at 3:05 p.m., according to the complaint. He drove south on the bike path to Chambers Street, hitting cyclists and pedestrians before crashing into a school bus and emerging with a pellet gun and a paintball gun, the complaint said.

NYPD officer Ryan Nash, 28, shot Saipov in the abdomen, leading to his capture, officials said. Saipov was taken into custody and moved to Bellevue Hospital Center.

Eight people were killed and at least 12 were injured. Another three or four people, believed to be police officers, took themselves to the hospital, according to the FDNY.

After his arrest, Saipov told investigators he chose Halloween to maximize casualties and that he was “happy” he carried out the rampage, authorities said.

While hospitalized at Bellevue, Saipov allegedly asked to display ISIS flags in his room and said he was inspired by the militant group, according to the complaint.

ISIS belatedly claimed responsibility for the attack, calling Saipov a “soldier of the Caliphate” and saying the rampage was in response to its call to target “citizens of the Crusader countries involved in the alliance against the Islamic State.” The militant group made the claim in a weekly issue of its Al-Naba newspaper, but did not provide any proof it was involved in the plot.

The victims

Of the eight people killed, one was a New Yorker, another was from New Jersey, five of them were Argentine tourists and one was a Belgium citizen, officials said.

Nicholas Cleves, 23, lived with his mother inside an apartment building on Greenwich Street, near Barrow Street, in Greenwich Village. He was the youngest of those killed.

Darren Drake, 32, lived with his parents in New Milford, New Jersey, and commuted to work at 7 World Trade Center for Moody’s Investors Service, according to his father, Jimmy Drake, who described his son as his best friend.

The Belgium citizen was identified by the NYPD as Anne Laure Decadt, 31.

The Argentines — identified as Hernán Diego Mendoza, Diego Enrique Angelini, Alejandro Damián Pagnucco, Hernán Ferruchi and Ariel Erlij — were in the city celebrating the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation, the country’s consulate said.

“They were so happy to be together to have the opportunity to share some excellent moments,” Mateo Estreme, consulate general of Argentina, said after the attack. “And then this terror attack brought an abrupt end to that celebration.”

Another Argentine was one of the people injured. Two children and two adults on the school bus were also among the injured.

The suspect

Saipov is a native of Uzbekistan who moved to the United States legally in 2010 and currently lives in Paterson, New Jersey.

He seemed a regular guy, said Carlos Batista, who lived two doors down from where Saipov lived with his wife and children. He was quick with a friendly wave, Batista said. Another neighbor said Saipov could often be seen bringing one of his daughters to her kindergarten class.

“He was a nice guy. He’d say ‘hey’ and wave when he drove past,” Batista said.

Worshippers at Paterson’s Omar Mosque, around the corner from Saipov’s apartment, said they didn’t know Saipov and stressed Islam is a peaceful religion.

“Nobody’s ever seen this guy,” said Ramy Elhelw, 30, of Hoboken, who described the mosque community as tight-knit. “Nobody knows him.”

Before moving to New Jersey, Saipov lived in Florida and Ohio, a law enforcement source said. He married Nozima Odilova in 2013 when she was 19, according to published reports. At the time he worked as a truck driver.

Before the attack, Saipov drove for Uber, company officials said.

Sources said Saipov’s wife was questioned by federal agents and was not believed to have been involved in her husband’s alleged terror plot.

Records show he set up two businesses with Ohio addresses in 2011 and 2013, though it’s unclear if he was living in the state at the time.

The investigation

After his arrest, Saipov waived his Miranda rights during an interview at Bellevue Hospital Center and told investigators that he was inspired to carry out the attack after watching ISIS videos on his cellphone, the criminal complaint said.

He started planning an attack in the United States about a year before, but zeroed in on New York City as his target about two months prior to the attack, per the complaint. A law enforcement source said Saipov came to Manhattan four times before the attack in what were believed to be reconnaissance missions.

He appeared to follow ISIS instructions for terror attacks found on social media “almost to a T,” John Miller, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, said.

He rented the pickup truck at 2:06 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2017, from a Home Depot in Passaic, New Jersey. He then drove over the George Washington Bridge and, just after 3 p.m., he entered the West Side Highway bicycle path, police said.

Saipov yelled “Allahu Akbar,” Arabic for “God is great,” as he exited the truck, the complaint said. A black bag containing three knives and a wallet, which had Saipov’s Florida driver’s license inside, was found near the truck, per the complaint.

Investigators also found handwritten notes in Arabic that said, in part, “No God but God and Muhammad is his Prophet,” and “Islamic Supplication. It will endure,” which is a common phrase used to refer to ISIS, according to the complaint. A stun gun and two cellphones were also recovered from the floor of the truck.

Investigators found about 90 videos on one cellphone, many of which appeared to be ISIS-related propaganda, the complaint said. On the other phone, searches for truck rentals and Halloween in New York City were discovered.

Saipov had also wanted to continue his rampage by heading to the Brooklyn Bridge and considered putting ISIS flags on the front and back of the truck during the attack but decided not to because it would draw too much attention, per the complaint.

“In the short period of time since the attack, as alleged in the complaint, we have developed evidence establishing that Saipov committed this attack in support of ISIS,” Joon Hyun Kim, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said. He called Saipov a man “consumed by hate and a twisted ideology” who was fully cooperative with authorities and talked proudly of what he had done.

Miller said Saipov had never been the subject of an FBI or NYPD probe.

After his arraignment on Nov. 1, 2017, Saipov’s attorney, David Patton, made a pitch for fair treatment, asking the public to allow “the judicial process [to] play out. It’s especially important in a case like this. I promise you that how we treat Mr. Saipov in this judicial process will say a lot more about us that it will say about him.”

With Newsday, Reuters and Lisa Colangelo

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