NEW YORK (CBSMiami) — Federal prosecutors announced on Wednesday they have filed terrorism charges against the New York City terror attack suspect, who is accused of killing eight people and injuring a dozen others.
Sayfullo Saipov was taken to court the New York federal courthouse Wednesday in a wheelchair with his hands cuffed and feet shackled.
Saipov is charged with two terrorism counts: a charge of providing material support to a terrorist organization and a charge of violence and destruction of a motor vehicle with willful disregard for human life.
Federal prosecutors say he was “consumed by hate and a twisted ideology” when he attacked people on the bike path on Tuesday.
Saipov, a native of Uzbekistan who came to the U.S in 2010, drove a rented Home Depot truck about a mile down a busy bike path, mowing down pedestrians and bicyclists alike. It happened just a few blocks from the World Trade Center memorial. He then collided with a school bus, injuring two adults and two children.
“The driver of the truck exited the vehicle brandishing two handguns. A uniformed police officer assigned to the First Precinct confronted the subject and shot him in the abdomen the subject was wounded and transported to a local hospital,” said New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill.
Police say those guns turned out to be a paintball and a pellet gun.
A federal law enforcement source tells CBS that a note that referenced the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria was found in or near the truck used in the attack. The New York Times is reporting that there were two notes, written in Arabic, that included a pledge of allegiance to ISIS.
The NYPD said Wednesday that Saipov had been planning the attack for two months and that he did a test run on October 22.
Hours after the shooting, detectives converged on a New Jersey Home Depot where he’s believed to have rented the truck used in the attack.
Saipov is in the U.S. legally because of the so-called Diversity Visa Lottery which grants about 55,000 visas per year to applicants from countries that don’t send many émigrés to the United States.
In his first remarks on the attack, President Donald Trump said he’s asked Congress to end that program.
“I am today starting the process of terminating the Diversity Lottery Program. I am going to ask Congress to immediately initiate work to get rid of this program. A Diversity Lottery, it sounds nice, it’s not nice. It’s not good. It’s not good, it hasn’t been good, we’ve been against it,” he said. “So we immediately want to work with Congress on the Diversity Lottery Program, on terminating it, getting rid of it. We want a merit-based program where people come into our country based on merit.”
President Trump also said they plan to end chain migration.
“This man that came in, or whatever you want to call him, brought in with him other people. He was the point of contact, the primary point of contact, for, and this is preliminary, 23 people that came in, or potentially came in with him, and that’s not acceptable,” he said.
Law enforcement says they believe the suspect acted as a lone wolf, not as part of a wider terror plot.
New York’s governor believes this is a classic case of the radicalization of a domestic terrorist.
“They have a very simple play. Rent a car, rent a truck, create mayhem,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Five of those killed were Argentinian, childhood friends who were in town celebrating the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation. A Belgian woman visiting the city was also among the dead.
Saipov is in critical condition after undergoing surgery. He is expected to survive.