Sayfullo Saipov, who used a truck to kill eight people in a 2017 New York City bike lane terror attack, was convicted of murder, attempted murder, providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, and destruction of a motor vehicle.
A 12-member jury in Manhattan federal court on Thursday handed down Saipow’s verdict after less than a day of deliberation. The jury’s next task is to decide whether an Uzbek immigrant faces life in prison or the death penalty for the attack, the worst act of terrorism in New York City since 9/11.
If the jury decides to execute him, Saipow would be the first person to be sentenced to the federal death penalty under Biden. His Department of Justice strived death penalty for Mr. Saipov and othersdespite the president’s stated opposition to the death penalty.
The government argued that Saipov was inspired by ISIS to carry out the attack with a hired truck and wanted to become a martyr for the group.
During his closing speeches this week, federal prosecutor Jason Richman he said alleged terrorist “turned bike lane into battlefield”.
As further evidence of the ISIS-inspired nature of the plot, officials pointed to a phone call from the prison in which Saipov called himself “caliphate soldierand noticed the man asking for the ISIS flag to be raised in his hospital room.
The attacker’s attorneys did not deny Saipov’s role in the killings, but rather sought to distinguish them as attacks by lone wolves, rather than part of a coordinated plot conducted with an international terrorist organization. They said he planned to die a martyr, which he latched on to by spending time on the Internet when he was a long-haul truck driver.
“If you plan to die in an attack, you don’t plan to join an organization,” New York City Attorney David Patton told jurors this week. “I will admit there is something odd about discussing possible explanations for a terrible crime that is inexplicable and senseless, but that is what he is accused of and this is the decision you are being asked to make.”
The trial also included first-hand accounts from survivors and victims of the truck attack, as well as their family members.
Friedel Decadt from Belgium described how she watched her sister Ann-Laure suffer and eventually died from her injuries.
“Her gaze was dead. She was just staring into the air and a lot of blood was gushing out of her mouth,” said Decadt he said.
Prosecutors say a man drove a rented Home Depot truck onto Manhattan’s crowded West Side bike path on Halloween in 2017, killing eight people and injuring many more in an Islamic State-inspired plot.
Many of those killed and injured in the attack were tourists, ranging from a group of men visiting Argentina to people visiting the city from nearby New Jersey.
The jury will reconvene next month to determine the sentence for Mr Saipow.