A grand jury in the Southern District of New York has returned a 22-count indictment (the “Indictment”) against Sayfullo Saipov in connection with Saipov’s alleged terrorist attack in lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017, which killed eight people and injured 12 more. The Indictment charges Saipov with eight counts of murder in aid of racketeering, 12 counts of attempted murder in aid of racketeering, one count of providing and attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (“ISIS”), and one count of violence and destruction of a motor vehicle.
On October 31, 2017, at approximately 3:00 p.m., Saipov drove a rented flatbed truck (the “Truck”) from New Jersey over the George Washington Bridge into New York City. After Saipov entered New York City, he proceeded in the Truck to the West Side Highway and began traveling southbound. Once Saipov was in the vicinity of Houston Street in Manhattan, he drove the Truck onto the bike lane and pedestrian walkway of the West Side Highway. Saipov then drove down the walkway for several blocks, striking numerous civilians. Saipov eventually collided with a school bus, which was carrying occupants in the vicinity of West Street and Chambers Street, at which point the Truck came to a halt.
After Saipov collided with the school bus, he exited the driver’s door of the Truck with two objects in his hands that appeared to be firearms. Moments after Saipov got out of the Truck, he yelled, in substance and in part, “Allahu Akbar,” which is an Arabic phrase that translates to “God is Great.”
Saipov was shot by a law enforcement officer and taken into custody. Law enforcement officers subsequently recovered in the vicinity of the Truck, among other things, a paintball gun, a pellet gun, a stun gun, and three knives. Law enforcement officers also recovered, approximately ten feet from the driver’s door of the Truck, a document that contained, among other things, the Arabic text for “No God but God and Muhammad is his Prophet” and “Islamic Supplication. It will endure.” “It will endure” is commonly used to refer to ISIS. Cellphones recovered from the Truck contained, among other things, videos and images of ISIS propaganda, and internet searches for truck rentals and for Halloween in New York City.
After Saipov was taken into custody, he was transferred to Bellevue Hospital, where he made statements to law enforcement officers after waiving his Miranda rights. During that interview, Saipov stated, among other things, the following:
Saipov was inspired to carry out the Truck attack by ISIS videos he had watched on his cellular phone.
Approximately one year ago, Saipov began planning an attack in the United States. Approximately two months ago, he decided to use a truck to inflict maximum damage against civilians. On or about October 22, 2017, Saipov rented a truck so he could practice making turns in advance of his attack.
Saipov planned to use the Truck to strike pedestrians in the vicinity of the West Side Highway and then proceed to the Brooklyn Bridge to continue to strike pedestrians. Saipov wanted to kill as many people as he could. Saipov chose October 31, Halloween, for the attack because he believed there would be more civilians on the street for the holiday.
Saipov wanted to display ISIS flags in the front and back of the Truck during the attack, but decided against it because he did not want to draw attention to himself. Saipov requested to display ISIS’s flag in his hospital room and stated that he felt good about what he had done.
Eight individuals died from the injuries they sustained as a result of the Truck driving on the walkway and at least 12 additional individuals were injured.
Saipov, 29, of Paterson, New Jersey, was initially arrested by the NYPD on October 31, 2017. A chart containing the charges and maximum penalties against Saipov is set forth below. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said: “As alleged in this indictment, Sayfullo Saipov murdered eight innocent people and injured many more in a calculated act of terrorism in the heart of one of our great cities. People have a right to safety walking down a sidewalk or riding a bike, and we will not change our resolve to confront these threats both at home and abroad. I am especially proud today of the law enforcement officers who acted quickly and courageously to respond and to protect people from further harm. We continue to offer our assistance, our support and our prayers to the victims of this attack and to all the people of New York City.”
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “Consumed by hate and a twisted ideology, Sayfullo Saipov allegedly barreled down a pedestrian walkway and bicycle path on a sunny afternoon on the West Side of Manhattan, killing eight innocent people and injuring at least a dozen others. As the scores of videos and images on his cellphone showed, Saipov’s depraved use of a rental truck as a weapon of terror was allegedly in support of the terrorist organization ISIS. As of today, Saipov stands indicted of material support of terrorism, as well as eight counts of murder and 12 counts of attempted murder in aid of racketeering. Like many terrorists before him, Saipov will now face justice in an American court. And like New York City’s response to his alleged attack, we expect that justice in this case will be swift, firm, and resolute.”
FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “When Sayfullo Saipov carried out his brutal attack last month, his intentions were to inflict significant damage, death and injury to innocent victims and terrorize this city. We announce today’s indictment with the understanding that nothing can ever reverse the unfortunate events of that day, or alleviate the pain and sorrow of the victims’ families. Today’s indictment should be a signal though that the rule of law will always prevail and we are dedicated to holding this perpetrator and anyone else who threatens to disrupt our most basic freedoms accountable for their criminal actions.”