Federal prosecutors have placed terrorism charges against the Uzbek immigrant accused of running down eight people with a truck in New York City.
Sayfullo Saipov, 29, was shot in the stomach by a policeman and is recovering in a New York hospital.
Charges against him include providing material support to a terror group and destruction of motor vehicles. It is not known when he can make his first court appearance.
Saipov allegedly drove a rented truck down a crowded bicycle path in downtown Manhattan Tuesday, running over bike riders and pedestrians. The truck hit a school bus and Saipov jumped out of the damaged truck. He was waiving what turned out to be a paint-ball gun and a pellet gun before he was shot by a New York police officer.
Suspect questioned in hospital
Investigators who have questioned Saipov in his hospital bed say he planned the attack for weeks. They say Saipov carried out the deadly 20 block drive in the name of Islamic State and stated he is proud of what he did.
ISIS has urged its followers to do exactly what Saipov is charged with doing — use cars and trucks as weapons and drive them along busy pedestrian areas to kill as many people as possible.
Deputy New York police commissioner John Miller told reporters notes linked to Saipov were found at the crime scene.
“The notes were handwritten in Arabic,” Miller said. “They had symbols and words. But the gist of the note was that the Islamic State would endure forever.”
Social media accounts found
Authorities have also linked Saipov to social media accounts that contain Islamic State-related material. ISIS has, so far, not claimed responsibility.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the attack was the “definition of terrorism. This was an attack on our values.”
He said there are no “additional or credible” threats against the city at this time and urged New Yorkers to “be strong, be proud, be resilient, show the whole world right now, we will not be moved by terror.”
‘A depraved coward’
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called Saipov “a depraved coward” and earlier told CNN that he was “radicalized domestically.”
Tuesday’s crime using a rented truck was similar to terrorist vehicle attacks carried out in other Western countries in recent years. New America, a nonpartisan research center, says 15 vehicular attacks have been carried out since 2014, killing more than 140 people.
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.
The New York Police Department said it will increase the number of officers throughout the city “out of an abundance of caution.”
Ramon Taylor, Victor Beattie, Ken Bredemeier and Chris Hannas contributed to this report.