The Islamic State has claimed Sayfullo Saipov, the 29-year-old Uzbek immigrant charged with killing eight people in New York City earlier this week with a truck, as one of its own.
The terrorist group said in Al-Naba, the group’s weekly newspaper, that the attacker was one of its “soldiers,” but did not provide any evidence to support its claim.
Saipov, who came to the United States legally through the diversity lottery visa program, faces numerous terrorism related charges in connection with Tuesday’s deadly rampage down a New York City bicycle path in a rented truck. In addition to the eight people who were killed, a dozen more were seriously injured.
Saipov was wounded by a police officer after the attack and was taken to a hospital. Hospital officials said the attacker stated his allegiance to IS and asked to have an IS flag in his hospital room. His request was denied.
Uzbekistan’s president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, said Wednesday the attack was ruthless and cruel, and that his government stood ready to use all means to assist in the investigation.
Law enforcement officials had noted that Saipov’s method of using a rented truck was similar to IS-inspired vehicle attacks in other Western countries in recent years. New America, a nonpartisan research center, said 15 vehicular attacks have been carried out since 2014, killing more than 140 people.
With the New York City Marathon set to attract more than 50,000 runners and many hundreds of thousands of spectators this Sunday, the New York Police Department said it would increase the number of officers throughout the city “out of an abundance of caution.”