UPDATE: Muslim terrorist Sayfullo Saipov was known to the FBI before the vehicular attack he carried out in Manhattan. In addition, his mosque in New Jersey had been under surveillance for a number of years. Saipov entered the U.S. as an immigrant in 2005 and moved to Paterson, New Jersey, a few months ago with his wife and two children. He had also lived in Ohio and Florida.

On Tuesday afternoon at approximately 3 p.m., a Muslim man from Uzbekistan drove a rented pickup truck down a bike path along the Hudson River in New York City, running down and killing eight people and injuring 11 more in the deadliest terrorist attack in the Big Apple since 9/11. The driver was shot by police and arrested about five blocks from the former World Trade Center.

The driver -- Sayfullo Saipov (29) -- was stopped only when he drove his truck into a school bus. He then jumped out of the pickup and ran up and down the West Side Highway while waving a pellet gun and a paintball gun. Shouting “Allahu akbar!” -- Arabic for “Allah is great” -- Saipov was eventually shot in the abdomen by a police office and detained. He had driven nearly a mile down the bike path, leaving behind mangled bodies and bicycles twisted like pretzels.

Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) declared the incident a terrorist attack. Federal officials are now leading the investigation. They found handwritten notes in Arabic near the shattered truck that showed an allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS). So far, investigators have not found other ties between the alleged terrorist and ISIS and are thus treating the incident as the work of an attacker inspired by ISIS. At a news conference, de Blasio said,“Based on information we have at this moment, this was an act of terror, and a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians.”

Late Tuesday night, President Donald Trump tweeted that unspecified measures are being taken by the federal government. His efforts to stem immigration from Muslim-majority countries such as Uzbekistan have been stymied by federal courts so far. “I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!” the president tweeted. Earlier, Trump appeared to imply that the attack was a result of U.S. immigration authorities allowing Islamic State terrorists to enter the country. “We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!” Trump had tweeted.

City officials credited a police officer for quick action in taking down the slim, bearded Saipov. 

Witnesses described their horror upon seeing the bike path strewn with crumpled bodies and bicycles. Five of the dead were tourists from Argentina who traveled to New York to celebrate a   30-year high school reunion celebration. According to Argentine authorities, the dead were: Hernán Mendoza, Diego Angelini, Alejandro Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij, and Hernán Ferruchi. Martín Ludovico Marro, a sixth member of the group, was wounded. The Argentines came from Santa Fe province. They were residents of Rosario, one of Argentina's largest cities. Marro is currently being treated for critical injuries at New York's Presbyterian Hospital. He and his compatriots graduated from Rosario's Polytechnic School in 1987. One of the dead was from Belgium; three of the injured are also from Belgium. 

The assailant Saipov came to the United States from Uzbekistan in 2010. He was a legal permanent resident. Saipov had had residences in Paterson, N.J., and Tampa, Fla. The truck he was driving was rented from a Home Depot store in Passaic, N.J., where a white Toyota minivan believed to be his was found parked. He crashed the truck into a school bus close to the intersection of Chambers and West Streets in Manhattan, near the Stuyvesant High School. Witnesses screamed “Shooter!” and ran from the scene when Saipov descended from the wrecked truck and began waving pistols. A passer-by approached the attacker, apparently trying to calm him, until the man realized the attacker had a gun. The man then put his hands up and backed away from Saipov. 

Saipov had been recently monitored by federal authorities because of an unrelated investigation. It is not clear to which investigation he has been connected. The FBI, Homeland Security, federal prosecutors, and NYC police had been investigating five men from Uzbekistan and one from Kazakhstan for the last two years that have resulted in charges of providing material assistance to ISIS. Several of them have pleaded guilty. Federal authorities have searched Saipov’s home in New Jersey and his car on Tuesday night. A phone was recovered at the scene of the crash. The attack occurred as schools released children early for Halloween. 

This attack came just five months after a vehicle rammed into pedestrians at Times Square and killed one person. However, that was not deemed a terrorist attack. The Tuesday attack resembled the method used by Muslim marauders elsewhere in the World. In 2016, a cargo truck driven by a Tunisian Muslim mowed down scores of people in Nice celebrating Bastille Day, while there have been similar attacks in European metropoli such as Stockholm, London, Barcelona, Jerusalem, Paris, and Manchester. 



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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