NEW YORK, N.Y. – A 22-count indictment was returned Tuesday against a New Jersey man in the slayings of eight people during a truck attack on a bike path in New York City.
Sayfullo Saipov, 29, of Paterson, was charged in Manhattan federal court with providing material support to the Islamic State group, along with eight counts of murder and 12 counts of attempted murder in aid of racketeering. Numerous counts carry a potential penalty of death.
He was arrested after people were run over by a vehicle Oct. 31 in a midday attack that authorities immediately labeled terrorism.
His lawyer did not return a message seeking comment.
In a release, Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the attack a “calculated act of terrorism in the heart of one of our great cities.”
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said “scores of videos and images on his cellphone” will be part of the evidence in the case against Saipov.
“Like many terrorists before him, Saipov will now face justice in an American court,” Kim said. “And like New York City’s response to his alleged attack, we expect that justice in this case will be swift, firm and resolute.”
William F. Sweeney Jr., head of New York’s FBI office, said the indictment should signal “that the rule of law will always prevail.”
“When Sayfullo Saipov carried out his brutal attack last month, his intentions were to inflict significant damage, death and injury to innocent victims and terrorize this city,” Sweeney added. “We announce today’s indictment with the understanding that nothing can ever reverse the unfortunate events of that day, or alleviate the pain and sorrow of the victims’ families.”
Saipov, held without bail, was charged with using a rental truck to mow down cyclists and pedestrians on a bike path.
Authorities said he made statements after his arrest about his allegiance to the Islamic State group, which later took credit for the attack. He was shot by a police officer after crashing the truck into a school bus. His injury was minor enough that he was transferred to a prison facility in Manhattan two days later.
Saipov came to the U.S. legally in 2010 from Uzbekistan, where officials say he had no history of trouble with the law. He first lived in Ohio, where he was a commercial truck driver, then in Florida. He most recently lived in New Jersey with his wife and children, and worked as an Uber driver.
Authorities said in court papers that Saipov told investigators he was inspired to carry out the attack after watching a video of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi questioning “what Muslims in the United States and elsewhere were doing to respond to the killing of Muslims in Iraq.”
Evidence against him includes what was found on two of his cellphones, according to court documents. Investigators said one phone contained 90 videos and other Islamic State propaganda, including one of a beheading and another of a tank running over a prisoner. The other phone showed a search for truck rental outlets.