Opening statements are set to begin Monday in the trial of Sayfullo Saipov, who is currently facing terrorism charges after he allegedly ran over pedestrians in a rented truck on the West Side bike path in Manhattan on Halloween in 2017; killing eight people and injuring many more.
Saipov has pleaded not guilty to eight counts of murder, 18 counts of attempted murder, and other terrorism charges. His plea makes him eligible for the death penalty in what is the first federal capital case heard under the Biden Administration.
Authorities reported that Saipov plowed through cyclists and pedestrians on the bike path before crashing the rented truck into a school bus, exiting the vehicle while waving a pellet and paintball gun before being shot and taken into custody by an NYPD officer.
According to a criminal complaint, Saipov told investigators that he planned the attack throughout the course of a year and chose to execute it on Halloween due to the volume of people that would be on the streets.
“He planned to use the truck to hit pedestrians in the area the attack took place and then proceed to the Brooklyn Bridge to continue to strike pedestrians.”
The criminal complaint also revealed that Saipov told investigators ISIS inspired his attack, and he chose to use a truck as a means of “inflicting maximum damage against civilians.”
Prosecutors stated that Saipov initially wanted to display ISIS flags on the truck during the attack, but decided not to as a means of avoiding attention.
The complaint also said that investigators found around 90 videos and 3,800 pictures of ISIS-related propaganda on his cell phone, including graphic videos of ISIS members killing “prisoners, beheadings, and instructions for how to make a homemade improvised explosive device.
Investigators also cited in the complaint that Saipov asked to hang an ISIS flag in his hospital room after being shot and captured, and that he said he “felt good about what he had done.”
According to officials, Saipov initially came to the US in 2010, moving from Uzbekistan to New Jersey with his wife and three children, and drove for Uber. He entered into the US on a diversity immigrant visa, which “allows people from countries with low recent immigration to apply for a visa and green card,” according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Police have stated that of the eight people killed in the attack, five were from Argentina, two were Americans, and one was from Belgium. The Argentinians were in a group of people celebrating their 30-year high school reunion.
Reported by CNN, “Argentina’s Foreign Affairs Ministry identified the group as Hernán Diego Mendoza, Diego Enrique Angelini, Alejandro Damián Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij and Hernán Ferruchi.
Nicholas Cleves, 23, from New York, and Darren Drake, 32, from New Milford, New Jersey, were the two Americans killed. Ann-Laure Decadt, a 31-year-old Belgian woman, was also among those killed, according to a statement from her husband, Alexander Naessens.”
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.