On Thursday, January 26, Islamic extremist Sayfullo Saipov was recently convicted of murder and attempted murder amongst other charges regarding the 2017 New York City terrorist attack that killed eight people.
The accused was also found guilty of providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization and the destruction of a motor vehicle. Following a day of deliberations, a 12-person Manhattan jury found Sayfullo Saipov guilty of the charges against him.
In what is considered to be the worst act of terrorism in New York City since 9/11, Saipov, an Uzbek immigrant, drove a Home Depot rental truck down a bike path, intentionally killing eight bystanders. The victims included Rutgers University graduate Darren Drake, a group of five friends visiting from Argentina, and a 31-year-old woman from Belgium. Twelve others were left injured.
The jury is yet to decide the perpetrator's fate - that of life in prison or a death penalty. If they decide on the latter, then Sayfullo Saipov would become the first person to be handed a federal death sentence under Joe Biden's administration. Then-American President Donald Trump had advocated for the accused's death penalty in 2017 in a tweet.
Islamic State-inspired killer Sayfullo Saipov said he wanted to die as a martyr
On Halloween in 2017, the then-29-year-old New Jersey resident rented a Home Depot truck and drove through a bike lane and pedestrian walkway in New York City, killing eight and injuring twelve. The rampage came to a stop only when Sayfullo Saipov's truck collided with a bus.
According to prosecutors, after getting out of the truck, the accused was heard shouting "Allahu Akbar," which translates into Arabic as "God is great." It was further claimed that Saipov, who was taken to a hospital after being shot by officers, wanted to hang the ISIS flag in his hospital room.
The only thing that had kept the extremist from flying the banner on his truck during the attack was the fact that it would draw attention to him, which could ultimately foil his plan.
The Justice Department further stated that they found additional evidence linking Sayfullo Saipov's attack to ISIS influence, including a document with a specific saying that followers use to refer to the group - "It will endure." They also referred to a jailhouse phone call in which Saipov called himself a "soldier of the caliphate."
Prosecutor Jason Richman commented on Sayfullo Saipov's actions and said:
"He turned a bike path into his battlefield. He was happy about the terrorist attack he unleashed."
Saipov's attorneys said that he was planning to die as a martyr, an idea that was highly influenced by the time he spent on the internet during his job as a long-haul truck driver.
While not denying his involvement in the tragic attack, Saipov's attorneys planned on distinguishing it as a lone wolf attack and not as part of any elaborate plot conducted while in league with an international terrorist organization.
During the hearing, New York City public defender David Patton told jurors:
"If you’re planning to die in an attack, you are not planning to join an organization. I will admit that there is something strange about discussing the possible explanations for an awful crime that is inexplicable and senseless, but it’s what he’s charged with, and it’s the decision you’re being asked to make."
Sayfullo Saipov's sentence will be determined next month.