WASHINGTON – The suspect in the vehicular attack that left eight people dead in Lower Manhattan spent several weeks planning the assault and followed instructions provided over social media by the Islamic State jihadist group to the letter, police said on Wednesday.
Sayfullo Saipov, a 29-year-old who entered the US through the Diversity Visa Program, planned the attack for “a number of weeks” and followed IS’s instructions “almost to a T,” New York Police Department (NYPD) Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller said in a press conference.
On Tuesday, Saipov, an Uzbek immigrant, allegedly used a pick-up truck to run down pedestrians and cyclists on a bike trail in Lower Manhattan along the Hudson River, killing eight people and injuring at least 12 others.
Five of the victims were Argentines who had traveled to New York to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their graduation from the Rosario Polytechnic School, the Argentine Foreign Ministry said.
Four of the people injured in the terrorist attack are listed in critical but stable condition, officials said.
Saipov, who arrived in the US in March 2010, left handwritten notes in Arabic in the truck that said the “Islamic State would endure forever,” Miller said.
The suspect told investigators that he was “proud” of the attack, Miller said.
The attack was the worst terrorist incident in New York since Sept. 11, 2001, when Al Qaeda suicide hijackers crashed jetliners into the World Trade Center’s twin towers in Lower Manhattan, destroying the iconic buildings and killing about 3,000 people, the NYPD said.
Saipov yelled “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great”) when he came out of the truck after running over his victims on the bike path next to Stuyvesant High School and then crashing the vehicle into a school bus, eyewitnesses said.
Saipov was shot and wounded by a police officer, and he was transported to a hospital.
Earlier in the day, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the Uzbek immigrant was radicalized in the United States and was “associated” with IS.
“There was no grand statement that was done. It was an act of a coward,” Cuomo said in a press conference.