Uzbek attacker inspired by ISIS video on cell phone; Study finds Central Asian migrants ‘more susceptible’ to radicalization

by WorldTribune Staff, November 2, 2017

The Uzbek national who carried out the Oct. 31 terror attack in New York City became radicalized after being inspired by an ISIS video he watched on his cell phone a year ago.

Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov later followed online instructions on how to weaponize a vehicle and decided to carry out the attack, according to a criminal complaint filed on Nov. 1 in federal court in New York.

Police investigate a vehicle allegedly used in a terror attack on the West Side Highway in New York City on Oct. 31. / Reuters

A recent study by Open Democracy concluded that Central Asian migrants “in general are more susceptible to the ideas of radical Islamic groups once away from their homelands.”

For most Central Asian migrants, “this means Russia, where several million take up work as seasonal laborers. Some are exposed to the propaganda of Islamic extremist groups while there. Some become radicalized, and of those who do nearly all are believed to travel on to conflict areas such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, or Yemen.”

Saipov “during the interview with law enforcement, requested to display ISIS’s flag in his hospital room and stated that he felt good about what he had done,” according to the complaint.

Saipov is hospitalized with a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

Saipov immigrated to the United States in 2010 after winning what is called a Diversity Visa in a lottery designed to bring in immigrants from underrepresented nations.

John Miller, the deputy New York police commissioner for intelligence, said Saipov “seems to have followed the regimen prescribed,” referring to a manual called “Just Terror Tactics,” which ISIS published late last year.

The manual instructs lone wolf jihadists on how to maximize damage and casualties using weapons like trucks which are far less regulated than firearms.

The manual reads, in part:

“Though being an essential part of modern life, very few actually comprehend the deadly and destructive capability of the motor vehicle and its capacity of reaping large numbers of casualties if used in a premeditated manner.”

Saipov’s native Uzbekistan is the origin of several jihadists who carried out or planned terror attacks.

In April, a terrorist identified as a 39-year-old from Uzbekistan drove a truck into a crowd of people in Stockholm, Sweden, killing five people.

On the New Year’s Eve preceding 2017, Abdulkadir Masharipov, an ISIS terrorist from Uzbekistan, entered Istanbul’s Reina nightclub and shot into the crowd, killing 39 people.

Last year, Brooklyn police charged Azizjon Rakhmatov, another Uzbek national, with helping organize and fund the voyage of two other men to Turkey and then Syria and Iraq, where they would have joined the Islamic State. Police claimed Rakhmatov’s phone “had plans to join ISIS, kill President Obama and bomb Coney Island.”

Fazliddin Kurbanov of Uzbekistan was arrested in Idaho in 2015 and was later convicted of attempting to build and detonate a bomb with the intention of committing an act of terrorism.

In majority-Muslim Uzbekistan, 88 percent of the population is Sunni Muslim. There are no official estimates on the number of Uzbek nationals currently engaging in radical Islamic terrorism, but the International Crisis Group suggests that most of the between 2,000 and 4,000 Central Asian nationals that have joined the global jihad are from Uzbekistan.

Under President Islam Karimov, who died last year after ruling Uzbekistan since the country became independent in 1991, dissenting voices – especially Islamist ones – were viewed as challenges to the regime. Anyone who criticized the Uzbek government was immediately branded as an enemy of the state.

Current Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev appeared to be warming ties with Turkey, whose president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has styled himself the cultural leader of the Sunni Muslim world. While Karimov had cut ties to Turkey in the 1990s, Mirziyoyev made time to visit Turkey last month.

“This is the first visit at the presidential level in 20 years. Therefore, it is highly significant and meaningful for us,” Erdogan told reporters

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