US & Canada

New York truck attack suspect 'spent a year planning'

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Media captionNew York truck attack: Who is Sayfullo Saipov?

The main suspect in the New York truck rampage that killed eight people on Tuesday has told investigators he began planning the attack a year ago.

Sayfullo Saipov, 29, said he intended to kill as many people as possible and "felt good" about the Halloween attack.

The Uzbek immigrant, who faces federal terrorism charges, says he was inspired by so-called Islamic State. He was shot and injured by police at the scene.

US President Donald Trump tweeted that he should receive the death penalty.

The charges filed against Mr Saipov are federal, which means the government can override New York state's ban on capital punishment.

What did the suspect say?

Mr Saipov appeared in court in a wheelchair 24 hours after mowing down cyclists and pedestrians on a bike lane in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday.

Six people died at the scene and two more in hospital. Twelve people were injured, four of whom remain in critical condition.

Prosecutors say Mr Saipov spoke freely to them, waiving his right to avoid self-incrimination while in custody.

According to federal court papers, he said:

  • The attack was a year in the planning and he carried out a trial run with a rental truck last month
  • He intentionally chose Halloween because he believed there would be more people in the streets
  • He originally planned to target the Brooklyn Bridge as well
  • He wanted to display Islamic State (IS) flags on the truck, but decided not to draw attention to himself
  • He was inspired by 90 graphic and violent propaganda videos found on his phone - in particular, one in which IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi asks what Muslims are doing to avenge deaths in Iraq.

Mr Saipov was charged with one count of providing material support and resources to IS and another count of violence and destruction of motor vehicles.

New York Police's Deputy Commissioner John Miller said the suspect appeared "to have followed almost exactly to a 'T'" IS instructions on how to carry out such an attack.

The FBI says they have located a second Uzbek man, 32-year-old Mukhammadzoir Kadirov, who was wanted for questioning in connection with the attack.

Who is the suspect?

Sayfullo Saipov had reportedly lived in Tampa, Florida, before moving to Paterson, New Jersey.

He arrived in America from Uzbekistan in 2010 and is a legal resident of the country. Uber confirmed he had been working as a driver for them.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Saipov, who was shot and injured by police, appeared in court in a wheelchair

CBS News quotes an intelligence source as saying he was known to US authorities after his name was associated with the subjects of FBI counter-terrorism investigations in 2015.

The source says he had some contact with individuals who were considered radicalised extremists, at least one of whom was Uzbek. It is unclear whether those being investigated were in the US or overseas.

It is not known if Mr Saipov, who was not the main focus of the investigation, was interviewed at that time by the FBI.

What has been the reaction?

New York has increased the police presence at key transport hubs, and there will be additional uniformed and plain-clothes police on duty at Sunday's New York Marathon.

President Trump said he was taking steps to end the diversity lottery programme - the immigration system under which the suspect entered the country.

But on Thursday, the US president drew back from an earlier call to send the suspect to the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, suggesting it would take too long.

The administration says it has not ruled out adding Uzbekistan to a list of countries in the president's proposed travel ban.

The mayor of New York City and the governor of New York state have both praised the resilience of New Yorkers - and urged people not to "politicise" a tragedy that took eight lives.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio also suggested New York's strict gun control laws had ensured that high-powered weapons could not get into the hands of terrorists.

How did the attack unfold?

The attacker rented the truck from a New Jersey branch of retailer Home Depot on Tuesday afternoon before driving to New York City and entering the bike lane, police said.

Video cameras show the van driving at very high speed, appearing to target bike riders and pedestrians.

After the truck collided with a school bus, the truck driver emerged and brandished what appeared to be two weapons.

Mr Saipov was shot and wounded at the scene by an NYPD officer who was alerted to the attack by witnesses.

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Media captionBabtunde Ogunnyi describes the moment a truck hit people on a cycle path in Lower Manhattan

Knives, a paint gun and a pellet gun were recovered from the scene.

It was the deadliest terror attack in the city since 11 September 2001.

Who were the victims?

A group of five Argentine friends celebrating the 30th anniversary of their college graduation were among the dead.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption This image of the Argentine friends was taken moments before they flew to New York. Hernán Ferrucci (far left), Alejandro Damián Pagnucco (second from left), Ariel Erlij (third from left), Hernán Mendoza (third from right) and Diego Angelini (second from right) were all killed

The men - all aged 48 or 49 - were named as Hernán Diego Mendoza, Diego Enrique Angelini, Alejandro Damián Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij and Hernán Ferrucci.

Belgian officials said Anne-Laure Decadt, a 31-year-old from Staden in Flanders, was also killed. Three Belgians were wounded.

Two other victims, both Americans, have been identified as Darren Drake, 32, and Nicholas Cleves, 23.

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