The suspected terrorist truck driver who carved a 14-block path of destruction along a lower Manhattan bike path was bragging about the deadly attack, sources said Wednesday.
Sayfullo Saipov, 29, was rejoicing rather than showing remorse after killing eight people and wounding 14 others along the Hudson River Tuesday, sources told NBC News.
Investigators spoke to the Islamic State-inspired Saipov at a local hospital, where he was in critical but stable condition.
A sharp-shooting NYPD cop, identified as Ryan Nash, 28, pumped a bullet into Saipov’s abdomen after he emerged from his crippled truck waving a paintball gun and pellet gun.
Saipov left behind in his rented Home Depot truck a knife and a note that said in Arabic, “ISIS lives forever,” NBC reported.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that Saipov, an Uzbekistan native, was radicalized while living in the U.S.
“(A)fter he came to the United States is when he started to become informed about ISIS and radical Islamic tactics,” Cuomo said on CNN. “Again, ISIS has gotten it down to a simple formula that they can put on the internet and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to rent a car, rent a truck. But they are cowards and they are depraved.”
Saipov came to the United States in 2010.
He lived in an apartment in Paterson, New Jersey, with his wife, two young daughters and infant son, neighbors said.
He moved there after stints in Ohio and Florida, where he was known as a pleasant guy who showed no interest in radical Islam.
“He was a very good person when I knew him,” Kobiljon Matkarov, 37, of Fort Myers, Fla., told The New York Times.
“He liked the U.S. He seemed very lucky, and all the time he was happy and talking like everything is OK. He did not seem like a terrorist, but I did not know him from the inside.”
Saipov arrived in the U.S. from the Uzbeki capital of Tashkent in 2010 and settled in the Cincinnati area.
He lived with a fellow Uzbeki family for roughly two weeks before moving to Florida.
His father in Uzbekistan had asked the family patriarch to house his son while the younger Saipov tried to get his green card.
“He was really calm,” Dilnoza Abdusamatova, who was a teenager when Saipov moved into her family’s townhouse, told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “He always used to work. He wouldn’t go to parties or anything. He only used to come home and rest and leave and go back to work.”
Saipov’s wife was cooperating with authorities and has denied having prior knowledge of the attack, NBC News reported.
The NYPD and the FBI are working to determine what led Saipov to plow a rented pickup truck into innocent bikers and joggers on Halloween.
Saipov hopped a curb at Houston Street and sped south for a mile, targeting and crushing the victims in his path.
The carnage in Tribeca, only blocks from the World Trade Center site, was interrupted when Saipov rammed his truck into a school bus. “God is Great!” he yelled as he leapt from the vehicle.
Nash, a Long Island resident who joined the force in 2012, shot the suspect moments later.
An Uber spokeswoman said Saipov drove for the ride sharing-company, and records show Saipov was also licensed as a commercial truck driver and formed a pair of businesses in Ohio.
An Ohio marriage license shows that a truck driver with one of Saipov’s addresses and his name, spelled slightly differently, married a fellow Uzbek in 2013.
Saipov’s mother, father and sister were being questioned in Uzbekistan, source in the country’s security services told Radio Free Europe.
Cuomo called the driver a “depraved coward,” and says the attack “did not instill terror” among New Yorkers.
“Don’t let them win. They are called terrorists. They want to impart terror. They didn’t,” Cuomo added.
It’s unlikely that Saipov had help, Cuomo said.
“The best evidence we have is that he was a ‘lone wolf’ model,” Cuomo told CBS’ “This Morning.”
Saipov was on the radar of federal authorities, but it was not clear if he was the focus of a probe or tangentially associated with an investigation, according to The New York Times.
“In many ways this was a, quote unquote, classic case of radicalization of a domestic jihadist who associated with ISIS. This is their new playbook,” Cuomo said
He added that Saipov had some contact with law enforcement since moving to the U.S. in 2010 — all for minor traffic issues.
“He had some vehicular violations,” Cuomo said. “The State Police actually helped him and his truck out of a ditch at one time.”
Investigators are digging through the killer’s social media accounts to see what connections he may have had, the governor said.
“But, there is no evidence now that it was part of a larger conspiracy, larger plot. This is the evolution of the jihad tactics, right? It’s no longer geographically isolated.
“The internet has given them a global platform and a global training ground. They have a very simple play: rent a car; rent a truck; create mayhem,” he added.