Immigrant to terrorist: who is NY suspect?
politics
18.10.2019

Immigrant to terrorist: who is NY suspect?

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Some saw him as disagreeable and argumentative, others as quiet and prayerful. He was said to be hard-working but also seemed to simmer with disillusionment over financial and career setbacks.
As Sayfullo Saipov lay in a hospital bed on Wednesday, police tried to piece together the life of the 29-year-old man they say drove a truck onto a New York bike path and killed eight people. A portrait began to emerge of the suspect who was described by the president as an animal and by the mayor as a coward.
Saipov legally immigrated to the US from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in 2010, and acquaintances said he made his first home in Ohio.
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Two other Uzbek immigrants, Akhmadjon Kholberdiyev and Mirrakhmat Muminov, came to know Saipov and said they were most struck by how provocative he was.
Sometimes, he would stir quarrels over weighty topics such as politics or the Mideast peace process, they said, but he could also grow angry over something as simple as a picnic.
"He had the habit of disagreeing with everybody," said Muminov, a 38-year-old from Stow, Ohio, who just as Saipov once did, works as a truck driver.
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Muminov described Saipov as "aggressive" and suspected he held radical views, though Muminov never heard him speak of the Islamic State group.
"He was not happy with his life," Muminov said.
Kholberdiyev, a groundskeeper at a local mosque, called Saipov quiet and said he came to the mosque to pray every two or three weeks.
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According to some media reports, Saipov lived for some time in Kyrgyzstan, another ex-Soviet nation that borders Uzbekistan and has a sizable ethnic Uzbek minority.
In June of 2010, the same year Saipov came to the US, the area near the city of Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan where he reportedly lived saw violence between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks that left at least 470 people dead. The violence prompted an exodus of Uzbeks from Kyrgyzstan.
A marriage license filed in Summit County, Ohio, shows Saipov married a woman named Nozima Odilova on April 12, 2013. But the couple eventually left Ohio for Florida. Saipov had a driver's license from that state, and some records showed an address for him at a Tampa apartment complex.
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FBI agents interviewed residents at the complex on Tuesday, but some who lived there said they knew nothing of their former neighbour. Records show he worked as a commercial truck driver and formed a pair of trucking businesses that could have kept him on the road for long stretches.
He had a handful of driving violations and was arrested last year in Missouri after failing to appear in court on a citation for brake defects.
Saipov and his family moved from Florida to New Jersey in June, according to a law enforcement official.
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On Wednesday, FBI agents removed evidence bags from an apartment building in Paterson, about 32 km northwest of New York City.
Maria Rivera, who lives down the street, said she sometimes saw Saipov talking on his phone or with two or three other men in the neighbourhood. A month ago, when she saw a little girl walking down the street, she asked the child who her mother was.
She pointed to Saipov and his wife, Rivera said.
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"He came out, grabbed the baby and he didn't say nothing to me," she said.
Birth records in Ohio show that Saipov and his wife had two daughters, aged two and four. A neighbour in New Jersey said they had a third child, a boy, earlier this year.
Another neighbor in Paterson, 23-year-old Carlos Batista, said he saw Saipov and two friends come and go several times in the past three weeks in the same model Home Depot pickup used in the attack.
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Muminov said he last heard from Saipov a few months ago when he called asking for advice on insurance. He said he heard from friends of Saipov that his truck engine blew a few months ago.
"He lost his job," Muminov said. "When someone loses their truck, they lose their life."
That may have led to Saipov beginning to drive for Uber, which confirmed he had passed a background check and driven for six months, making more than 1,400 trips.
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Saipov's transition from an eager new immigrant to a man now labelled a terrorist is a major focus of investigators.
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