On Tuesday, 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov drove a truck into a group of pedestrians, killing eight and injuring thirteen including himself. Soon after, authorities officially labeled the event as an “act of terror.” Now, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria aka ISIS claims responsibility for the attack.
The announcement was published Thursday in ISIS’ weekly newspaper. In it, the militant group acknowledges Habibullaevic to be one of their own:
“the attacker is one of the caliphate soldiers.”
The Uzbekistan native rented a Home Depot pickup truck and subsequently plowed through a group of pedestrians. After authorities were able to contain the attack, they found inside the truck many knives and notes praising ISIS along with two cell phones. Law enforcement officials were able to track the numbers and link them to other “sympathizers of a radical cause.” The people found on Saipov’s cellphones were already “on New York police radar.”
Investigators have come to the conclusion that Saipov was inspired by ISIS to carry out the attack. The man told authorities he had become radicalized after watching ISIS videos many of which urged supporters to carry out their terror attacks by using vehicles.
While all evidence points to Saipov being an ISIS sympathizer, the militant group has a long history of false claims to other attacks. A recent example is the Las Vegas shooting where Stephen Paddock mowed down 58 people before killing himself. ISIS quickly took responsibility calling Paddock a “soldier.” FBI and terrorism experts disregarded the claim due to insufficient evidence. Even in the case of Saipov, the evidence is not enough to link him to a broader terror plot, officials say.
Both the FBI and NYPD are looking into Saipov’s background. The man was confirmed to be an Uber driver after he passed their background check. He was banned shortly after from the app. Saipov, who arrived in the U.S in 2010, is currently thought to have acted alone.
Image source: Wikipedia Commons