Media questioned suspect Saipov as "soldier of the caliphate"
The so-called Islamic State (as IS, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh is banned in Russia as a terrorist organisation) has claimed responsibility for the attack in New York, killing eight and injuring 15 people, NBC reports, referring to the statement issued by IS. It called the attacker “a soldier of the Caliphate." However, NBC notes, ISIS provided no evidence that the organisation led the attack by 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov.
Apprehension of Sayfullo Saipov. Photo from the Tribunist.com website
Previously, the alleged terrorist claimed that he was "inspired" by ISIS' activities. Saipov left a note in Arabic in the truck used in the attack, which can be translated as “ISIS endures forever.” His phone contained clips from "Islamic State" regarding the killings of hostages and instructions on how to manufacture explosive mechanisms, as well as photographs of the leader of the organisation, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Meanwhile, the New York Times questioned the lateness of the ISIS statement taking responsibility for the attack. The statement, contrary to custom, was released not in the first 24 hours after the attack, but much later. Moreover, the statement was distributed through a weekly mailing, and not through the ISIS-related Amaq news agency, which is commonly used for such communications. Finally, the newspaper writes, ISIS retreats from its practice not to take responsibility for the attack when the accused is in custody.
Additionally, NYT sources in law enforcement agencies reported that during the investigation, federal authorities paid increased attention to the wedding in Fort Myers, Florida, which Saipov attended in August 2015. Earlier, the newspaper wrote that it was a man's wedding, for which the FBI established surveillance because of its possible links with terrorists. The current NYT article says that the person followed by the FBI was present at the wedding (whether it was the bridegroom, it does not specify). At the same time, the article says that the groom was Saipov's brother-in-law, and the bride is a girl from Uzbekistan, whose family lived in Fort Myers.
On 2 November, it was reported that during the investigation, FBI agents searched and later found a friend of Saipov, a 32-year-old Uzbek from Uzbekistan, Mukhammadzoir Kadirov. In what capacity he is involved in the investigation it is not clear. However, Kadirov already issued a statement in which he condemned the attack, calling it "unacceptable," and adding, “we as Muslims completely reject this kind of actions. No human being who has a heart can do this.”
Kadirov's family members reported that he was just an acquaintance, rather than Sayfullo's friend, and that they met when they worked as UBER drivers.
Also, the wife of the suspect, Nozima Odilova, (the couple lived in Paterson, New Jersey, raising three children) was questioned. She is reportedly cooperating with the investigation and has hired a lawyer. In Uzbekistan, Tashkent police officers interrogated the father, mother and younger sister of Saipov.
Sayfullo Saipov, the 29-year-old Uzbek citizen, was detained in New York on 31 October, and is suspected of committing a terrorist act. He was behind the wheel of a rented truck, which ran over random passers-by and bicyclists. Then, the truck crashed into a school bus, carrying children with disabilities and leaving one bus passenger in critical condition. The driver, shouting "Allahu Akbar!", jumped from the cabin while holding a paint gun and a pellet gun in his hands. Arriving at the scene, the police opened fire, wounding him in the abdomen. Saipov underwent an operation, and has already been questioned. As a result of the terrorist attack, eight people were killed and 15 injured.
On 1 November, the Southern District Prosecutor's Office of the State of New York charged Saipov with providing financial support for the Islamic State terrorist group (as IS, ISIL or Daesh is banned in Russia as a terrorist organisation), the destruction of transport means and with the murder of eight people, reports Reuters.