NYC Truck Attack Brings Terrorist Trend to U.S.
On Tuesday afternoon a pickup truck careened into a busy bike path in Lower Manhattan, killing 8 people and seriously injuring 11. The suspect was shot by police officers and remains in critical condition.
The culprit was identified by the New York Police Department as Sayfullo Saipov, a 29 year old resident of Florida who had immigrated from Uzbekistan in 2010. The intentions or motives of the attacker are not yet known, but a CBS report revealed that a note was found in his truck with a reference to the Islamic State.
The attack occurred near the Hudson river on West Street, where Mr. Saipov drove his truck into the oncoming bike traffic. He continued driving until crashing into a school bus near the entrance of Stuyvesant High School, and attempted to flee on foot. Holding what officers later determined were paintball and pellet guns, Mr. Saipov exited the car and ran until being shot in the abdomen by officer Ryan Nash.
Officials have yet to reveal more information about the victims of the attack but the Associated Press reported late Tuesday night that 5 Argentines and 1 Belgian were killed. In addition, two adults and two children were injured in the bus that was rammed by the attacker shortly before the rampage came to an end.
The attack on Tuesday was one of several recent terrorist events where a vehicle has been used as a weapon.
Mr. Saipov rented a pickup truck that became his weapon from Home Depot, a popular construction and hardware store. Like the assailants in Nice, France which killed 80 people, and the assault in Barcelona, Spain, which killed 14, Mr. Saipov had no problem renting a truck.
The Islamic State and other jihadist militant groups have latched onto this tactic and have urged many radicals to use vehicles as a means of attack. The ease of getting a car or truck means that it is virtually impossible to regulate and prevent these assaults.
In an ABC News report, former FBI agent Steve Gomez described why preventing vehicular attacks are so difficult. He said that only way to, “truly detect and prevent this” would have been “an aggressive investigation” into Mr. Saipov himself. Since the act of renting or purchasing a vehicle, unlike the purchase of a firearm, is not suspicious, it provides large problems for law enforcement looking to stop these attacks.
Despite the fear of another vehicle attack, leaders in all levels of government were quick to respond to the chaotic assault. In a press briefing, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio reassured New Yorkers that, “We will not be cowed. We will not be thrown off by anything”
President Donald Trump took to Twitter to respond to the attacks, stating that “We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!”
The White House soon began to attack the program that Mr. Saipov used to enter the country, the Diversity Visa Lottery, and called for its immediate shutdown. President Trump wants to replace the lottery program with merit based immigration, but he has yet to clarify exactly what that means.