Sayfullo Saipov, 34, of Uzbekistan, is to be sentenced to life in prison for his attack on a New York bike lane in 2017 in the name of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).
Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced on March 13 that a jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision as to whether to authorize the death penalty for Saipov. U.S. District Judge Vernon S. Broderick will sentence the killer to the statutorily mandated sentence of life in prison for carrying out the terrorist attack on October 31, 2017, in which Saipov used a truck to murder eight victims and injure many more on a bike path in lower Manhattan.
On January 26, 2023, the same jury convicted Saipov of all 28 counts in the indictment, which charged him with murder for the purpose of gaining entrance to a racketeering enterprise (ISIS); assault with a dangerous weapon and attempted murder for the purpose of gaining entrance to a racketeering enterprise (ISIS); providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization (ISIS) resulting in death; and damage and destruction to a motor vehicle resulting in death.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said yesterday: “On October 31, 2017, Sayfullo Saipov stole eight innocent lives – and devastated the lives of many more – in a horrendous terrorist attack. This evil act was fueled by Saipov’s allegiance to ISIS, an allegiance which Saipov proudly maintained after the attack and up through his trial. Today a jury has declined to authorize the death penalty for Saipov, and accordingly the defendant will be subject to a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
“Saipov’s crimes were predicated on ISIS’s commitment to murder innocent civilians and its disdain for rule of law. But, in the end, Saipov’s actions have highlighted one of the pillars of the rule of law in this country: the right to a full and fair public trial before a jury drawn from the community. We thank the jurors for their careful consideration of the evidence and the law during this long trial, and for their willingness to serve. We also thank the families of the murdered victims, and the surviving victims, for their patience and understanding as the legal process played out. Even though the trial has ended, we know that their pain and grief endures. We stand with them in honoring the lives of their loved ones, and all who were affected by this senseless attack.”
As set forth in public documents in the case and statements made during court proceedings, on Halloween afternoon in 2017, Sayfullo Saipov used a 6,000-pound truck to strike more than 20 innocent people on the Hudson River Bike Path in lower Manhattan. Saipov killed eight of his victims and critically injured many others, including a 14-year-old child. The surviving victims suffered amputations, serious brain injuries, life-altering physical injuries, and significant psychological trauma.
Saipov committed his attack after years of devotion to the brutal terrorist organization ISIS and after months of careful planning. In the weeks before his attack, for example, Saipov rented a truck to practice maneuvering it so that he could hit as many people as possible. Saipov brought a note to the attack with the ISIS flag and rallying cry written on it. After his attack, while in custody at a hospital, Saipov told the FBI that he committed the attack in response to calls from the leader of ISIS and that he was proud of what he had done. Saipov smiled when describing his attack and sought to hang the ISIS flag in his hospital room. After the attack, ISIS praised Saipov as an Islamic State soldier and called his attack one of the most prominent attacks in the United States.
In the years since his attack, Saipov continued to demonstrate his devotion to ISIS, including through statements in court, recorded telephone calls, and writings seized from his prison cell. In prison, Saipov also made statements confirming his continued belief that enemies of ISIS should be eliminated and threatening to cut the heads off of corrections officers.
At the liability and sentencing phases of trial, many of Saipov’s victims and their family members bravely described the terror he caused and the pain and suffering they continue to endure.
The Justice Department said Saipov will be sentenced to life in prison on all nine capital counts in the indictment.
Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative efforts of the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which consists of investigators and analysts from the FBI, the NYPD, and over 50 other federal, state, and local agencies. Mr. Williams also thanked the FBI Legal Attaché Office for Central Asia and the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, Laboratory Division, Victim Services Division, and Language Services Section, Homeland Security Investigations, New York, and the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, Capital Case Section, Organized Crime and Gang Section, Office of Enforcement Operations, and Office of International Affairs for their assistance.
The case is being handled by the Office’s National Security and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amanda L. Houle, Jason A. Richman, Alexander Li, and Andrew Dember, with the assistance of Paralegal Specialist Daniel Sitko, are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney John Cella of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section and Trial Attorney Michael Warbel of the Capital Case Section. Mr. Williams also thanked Wendy Olsen and the Office’s Victim and Witness Section for their outstanding efforts in assisting the victims of this crime and their families.