By Agence France-Presse
The Uzbek immigrant charged with federal terrorism offenses over the New York attack “felt good about what he had done” and began planning a strike a year ago, a charging document alleged Wednesday.
Prosecutors unveiled the terrorism charges against 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov, saying he had waived his rights and openly confessed to the attack while being questioned in custody at a hospital after being shot.
It came just hours after the White House said it saw Saipov as an “enemy combatant,” opening the door to his detention without normal rights.
Saipov yelled “Allahu Akbar” which means “God is Greatest” in Arabic, after exiting his pickup truck, having mowed down pedestrians and cyclists in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday and colliding with a school bus, the 10-page document revealed.
He allegedly told investigators that he was inspired to act by Islamic State group propaganda videos, dozens of which were discovered on his cell phone, and had begun planning an attack in the United States “approximately one year ago.”
Around two months ago he decided to use a truck “to inflict maximum damage against civilians,” the charging document said. His original intention had been to continue from Manhattan’s west side onto Brooklyn Bridge, but his vehicle crashed.
“During the interview with law enforcement, Saipov requested to display ISIS’s flag in his hospital room and stated that he felt good about what he had done,” said the document signed by an FBI special agent.
He deliberately chose Halloween to inflict maximum damage, “because he believed there would be more civilians on the street” and rented a truck on October 22 “to practice making turns” in preparation, the document said.
It also alleged that Saipov wanted to display IS flags in the front and back of the truck during the attack “but decided against it because he did not want to draw attention to himself.”
Investigators recovered a black bag from the scene that contained three knives, a wallet and a Florida driver’s license. Two cell phones were also recovered and a stun gun was found near the driver’s seat in the truck.
One cell phone contained 90 videos, including of IS fighters killing prisoners, and 3,800 images, many of which appear to be IS propaganda, the document said.
Officers also recovered a document in both Arabic and English, which officials say showed that he was allied to the IS group, and which he had admitted writing.
The charging document listed two counts: provision of material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, and violence and destruction of motor vehicles.
It was not immediately clear if he would face further charges.
He was interviewed at Bellevue Hospital, where he was read and verbally waived his rights.