The alleged New York terror attacker who killed eight people when he ploughed along a bicycle path in a rented van has reportedly told police he is “proud” of his actions.
Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, a 29-year-old Uzbek, is awake in hospital after being shot in the abdomen during Monday’s attack and said to be showing no remorse.
FBI and police investigators are attempting to piece together his backstory after a senior New York politician claimed he was radicalised in the US.
Saipov was an Uber driver who moved to the United States in 2010 and has a wife and children, according to US media reports.
The New York attack was the worst terrorist incident in the city since 9/11 and took place close to a memorial for that atrocity.
Saipov mounted a bike path in western Manhattan and smashed into cyclists and pedestrians for around a mile before returning onto the road and hitting a school bus.
He emerged from the rented white truck holding what appeared to be two guns – but turned out to be a paintball and pellet gun – and ran around before being shot by a policeman.
The “hero” officer has been named as Ryan Nash, 28, who was only in the area after being called to investigate reports of a suicidal teenager.
Saipov underwent surgery after he was apprehended and remains in hospital. As well as the eight people who died, 13 were injured.
As officers pursued leads in the first terror incident to hit America in Donald Trump’s time in the White House, the president was pointing the finger of blame at political rivals.
The terrorist came into our country through what is called the “Diversity Visa Lottery Program,” a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2017
Mr Trump criticised the scheme that reportedly let Saipov move to the country – the Diversity Visa Lottery Program – and the support for it from the Democrats.
In particular he singled out Chuck Schumer, the New York Senator who leads the Democrats in the Senate, for criticism, calling the scheme “a Chuck Schumer beauty”.
Mr Schumer hit back, tweeting that it is never “too soon to politicize a tragedy” and calling on Mr Trump to scrap cuts to “anti-terrorism funding”.
President Trump should be focusing on the real solution – anti-terrorism funding – which he proposed to cut in his most recent budget.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) November 1, 2017
Mr Trump also vowed to “step up“ his extreme vetting programme on border checks in a tweet, adding: “Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!”
On Tuesday afternoon, Mr Trump announced that he wanted Congress to shut down the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, replacing it with a “merit” based system.
Uzbekistan, Saipov’s home country, is not on a list of nations on which Mr Trump has introduced automatic tighter immigration controls.
Saipov’s links to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant are being closely examined. He reportedly left behind a note in the truck he used for the attack citing his support for the jihadist terror group.
However a firm link to the group is yet to be established, leading to suggestions that Saipov was radicalised during his time in the US.
Andrew Cuomo, the New York governor, said he “was associated with Isis” and “was radicalised domestically”, using an alternative acronym for the group.
New York terror attack, in pictures
Meanwhile, chilling online postings from Islamic groups in the run-up to the attack have raised suspicions about the level of forethought.
One photo posted on an Isis-linked Twitter page before the attack appears to have been taken in the same spot in Manhattan where the truck mounted the bike path.
The image, which shows the 1 World Trade Center in the background, was posted two months ago, according to the respected SITE group which monitors terror activity.
At a press conference, New York police and politicians gave fresh details about the attack and the suspect’s links to jihadist groups.
It took just four minutes for the attacker to mount the bike path, drive around a mile along the bike path and smash into a school van, according to a timeline from police.
A note was found in the truck written in Arabic praising IsiLl, with an officer saying the “gist” of the note was “the Islamic State would endure forever”.
An official said that the suspect “appears to have followed almost exactly to a tee” instructions Isil posted online about using vehicles for terror attacks.
Bill de Blasio, the New York mayor, praised the spirit and resilience of the city’s people and urged them to go about their lives as normal.
He said: “We understand this was an attack on our values. It was an effort to break our spirit. But as an effort to break our spirit it failed.
Mr de Blasio added: “Be New Yorkers. Be strong, be proud, be resilient. Show the whole world right now that we will not be moved by terror.”
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