Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, the 29-year-old suspect in the terrorist attack that left eight dead and a dozen wounded, according to police, bragged about the event, claiming he would have continued plowing through pedestrians and cyclists on the bike path had he not crashed the rented pickup truck he was driving.
As reported by CBS News, Saipov spoke with police from his hospital bed saying he was pleased with his actions. Local authorities also stated Saipov was unapologetic about the attack.
At the scene of the incident, investigators found 10 to 15 pieces of paper with various pro-ISIS statements written on them in Arabic. One reportedly read, “ISIS will endure” while another said, “ISIS lives forever.”
Local authorities also found an ISIS flag in the Home Depot rental truck Saipov used as a weapon during the attack and recovered knives at the scene.
Saipov is accused of deliberately driving the truck onto a bike lane located along the West Side Highway in Lower Manhattan. He drove along the path for several blocks before ramming into a school bus and coming to a stop.
According to police, when Saipov exited the vehicle, he shouted “Allahu akbar,” an Arabic phrase that translates to “God is great.”
NYPD Officer Ryan Nash, who was responding to a call in the area, confronted Saipov as he ran through the street, shooting him in the abdomen. At the time, Saipov was carrying what is now known to be a pellet gun and a paintball gun.
Authorities believe that Saipov acted alone and that his radicalization occurred while he was in the US.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said during an interview, “This was now, a classic case of radicalization of a domestic jihadist who associated with ISIS, and this is their new playbook.”
Mirrakhmat Muninov, an Ohio-based Uzbek activist and blogger who met Saipov shortly after he arrived in the US, said that Saipov “had no knowledge of the Koran” at the point when they met and that Saipov was radicalized based on information he found online.
Saipov, a native to Uzbekistan, entered the US in 2010 through a diversity visa lottery program. He reportedly worked as a truck driver in several states and was working as an Uber driver at the time of the attack. Saipov had previously resided in Ohio, New Jersey, and Tampa, Florida.
The State Department program that allowed Saipov to enter the US legally has since come under fire, including by President Donald Trump who stated on Wednesday, “I am today starting the process of terminating the diversity lottery program. I’m going to ask Congress to immediately initiate or get rid of this program.”