On October 31st, Sayfullo Saipov, a citizen of Uzbekistan, used a U-Haul truck to intentionally run over people along a New York City bike path.
Saipov came to the USA in 2010 on a “diversity visa.” The diversity visa program is a “visa lottery” launched in 1990 by George HW Bush to increase the diversity of immigrants brought to the USA. Saipov was the second person to carry out a major Islamic terrorist attack after winning this visa lottery. The first was Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, an Egyptian citizen who carried out the 2002 Los Angeles airport shooting spree.
By winning the diversity visa lottery, Saipov was able to live and work in the USA as a legal permanent resident. He married another Uzbek living in New York and had three children. He had worked as a long-haul truck driver and also drove for Uber.
He was inspired by ISIS to carry out a terrorist attack. He chose Halloween simply because more people would be out on the street. He had hoped to die during the attack and become a “martyr” for Islam. Instead, he was shot in the abdomen by police and taken alive. Eight people were killed, and eleven were injured. Some of the injured were permanently debilitated. Six of the deceased were foreign tourists. Five were from Argentina, and one was from Belgium.
The federal government took control of the case after Donald Trump called for Saipov to get the death penalty. The state of New York abolished the death penalty a long time ago. The Trump administration carried out the first executions in sixteen years. These executions were for people on death row since the 90s. However, when he took office, Joe Biden indefinitely suspended the federal death penalty.
A federal grand jury indicted Saipov on November 28th, 2017. He was charged with eight counts of murder in aid of racketeering, twelve counts of attempted murder in aid of racketeering, one count of providing and attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham [ISIS], and six counts of violence and destruction of motor vehicles in aid of racketeering.
A federal jury found Sayfullo Saipov guilty on all accounts. On February 6th, the jury will reconvene to decide if he should get life in prison or the death penalty. This is largely symbolic since it is extremely unlikely he will ever be executed.