Sayfullo Saipov, the convicted terrorist that killed eight people and wounded 11 others during a truck ramming attack in New York City in 2017, has been sentenced to 10 life terms and an additional 260 years in prison.
Saipov immigrated to the United States from Uzbekistan in 2010 under the green card lottery program, where he lived in Ohio and Florida before settling in New Jersey. While an exact timeline remains unclear, Saipov became self radicalized due to ISIS propaganda online, especially calls by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to carry out attacks in revenge for Muslims killed in Iraq.
At the time of the attack, vehicle rammings were a method of choice in ISIS and ISIS-inspired attacks, due to their relative ease in carrying out and effectiveness to inflict mass death and destruction. In the years leading up to the attack, there were over a dozen vehicle ramming attacks against western countries that resulted in over 140 deaths and hundreds of additional casualties, most notably in Nice, Berlin, Stockholm, and Barcelona.
While planning the attack for nearly a year, Saipov said that he made a test run a week prior, in which he rented a vehicle and drove to the location. On October 31, Saipov rented a Home Depot pickup truck in Passaic, New Jersey, before he drove down to the Hudson River Greenway by Pier 40 in Manhattan. From there, he drove south down the bike path, hitting cyclists and pedestrians while reaching speeds over 60 mph, in which eight were killed and several others were wounded. Saipov then crashed his truck into a special needs school bus, wounding two adults and two children. Upon exiting his vehicle, Saipov yelled “Allahu Akbar” while brandishing two toy guns before being shot and apprehended by police.
Opening arguments in his trial began on January 9, 2023, where Saipov faced 28 terrorism related charges. His defense team argued that while he is guilty of carrying out the attack, he was not a member of ISIS in an effort to avoid the death penalty. Saipov was later convicted of all charges on January 26, but the jury could not unanimously agree on imposing the death penalty.
Before his sentencing, Saipov went on an hour-long rant, largely reciting the history of Islam. At one point, he said that “It is very surprising that if one Mujahid kills one unbeliever anywhere that we will be talking about that crime for months and months, but at the same time they do not talk about anything, about any of those innocent Muslims dying in different places by thousands.”
“I was here in the court during the three months trial and I saw and I heard the victims’ families and friends. Tears of those families of the victims, maybe one handkerchief can hold their tears,” Saipov added. “The courtroom would be filled up with the tears and blood of the Muslim population.”
Saipov finished by saying that the Devil was instrumental in the creation of humans, to which a family member of one of the victims yelled out “The only act of the devil here is the act you did!”