Photo Credit: courtesy
Sayfullo Saipov

A radical Islamic terrorist turned a pleasant Tuesday afternoon into pre-Halloween horror on the bicycle path along the West Side Highway in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood just hours before the start of the annual Halloween Parade, which typically draws up to a million people.

As in Europe in recent years, the primary weapon used in the deadliest attack in New York City since 9/11 was a truck. Sayfullo Saipov, 29, exited the vehicle after ramming it into a school bus with a BB gun in one hand and a paintball gun in the other.

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New York City police didn’t realize the killer had also packed a large hunting knife in a heavy leather sheaf — but for some reason, didn’t use it.

The weapon clattered to the pavement when an unzipped black bag fell out of the cab when Saipov exited the badly-damaged white truck he rented from Home Depot in Passaic, New Jersey.

(Four victims were in the small yellow school bus that was rammed near Stuyvesant High School; the two school staff members and two disabled students were all seriously injured. All four were rushed to Bellevue Hospital, and survived.)

Saipov had entered the United States in 2010 on a “diversity visa” lottery program that earned him a Green Card and a new life in Tampa, Florida, where he obtained a driver’s license. He also eventually became a resident in Passaic, and started driving an Uber cab, according to Fox News.

He left two handwritten notes that were found around the truck, pledging his allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist organization and claiming the attack was carried out in the name of ISIS. He also left an image of an ISIS flag.

The terrorist group has, in fact, called on followers to carry out ramming attacks against the West with rented trucks and vans, using knives and whatever other weapons they can acquire.

Saipov’s wife and two children reportedly live in New Jersey. He was also allegedly arrested in Missouri in 2016 on a traffic violation but no details were released.

The FBI is asking for tips at 1-800-225-5321 and emphasizes it is not necessary to leave a name or identify yourself in any way.

The main concern now is connected to a list of issues: who wrote the notes, and who radicalized the attacker? He’s been in the United States for seven years — a seven year period in which authorities must now scrutinize the suspect’s every contact and activity.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.