Federal Terrorism Charges Filed Against Suspect In NYC Terror Attack

Nov 2, 2017
Originally published on November 2, 2017 6:53 pm
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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Late last night, President Trump tweeted that the suspect in Tuesday's attack in New York should get the death penalty. New York's mayor disagrees. Bill de Blasio spoke this morning at a high school near the site of the attack in Lower Manhattan.

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BILL DE BLASIO: I'm not someone who believes in the death penalty in general. I just don't. I believe this is an individual who should rot in prison for the rest of his life.

KELLY: To talk more about that response and catch us up on the latest in the investigation, we are joined now by NPR's Joel Rose. He's in New York. Hi, Joel.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Hi, Mary Louise.

KELLY: Tell us a little bit more about what the mayor had to say today.

ROSE: Well, he spoke at Stuyvesant High School in Lower Manhattan. This is right next to the bike path where Tuesday's attack took place. The mayor praised the resilience of students and faculty at the school, many of whom had to hunker down inside the classrooms as the attack was taking place but still were right back at school the very next morning. Here's a little more of what Mayor de Blasio had to say.

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DE BLASIO: They thought it was important to be at school the next day, to mourn those who had been lost, and to show that terror would not stop us, would not change us. They saw it as their duty to be back at this school and to send a message. It was very, very moving.

ROSE: Several students from the school were injured in the school bus that was struck by the pickup truck on Tuesday. One of them - one of those students is already back in school. The other is recovering from surgery. The driver of the bus and the bus matron are also recovering.

KELLY: OK. Let me turn you to the investigation and what more we may be learning about the suspect in this attack, the driver. This is Saifullah Saipov. What do we know about him?

ROSE: Well, we got a little bit more information from the criminal complaint that was filed late yesterday. Investigators say they were able to interview Saipov from his hospital bed after he was shot by police on Tuesday. Investigators say he was radicalized by watching ISIS propaganda videos on his cell phone. He allegedly picked Halloween to maximize the number of pedestrians who would be on the street during his attack. And prosecutors say Saipov asked to fly the ISIS flag in his hospital room, and that he feels good about what he did.

KELLY: That is hard to hear. Let me ask you about some of what we're learning about him from his neighbors in New Jersey. Some of them are starting to speak up now.

ROSE: His neighbors in Paterson, N.J., have been reluctant to talk so far mostly. So have the people at the mosque where he worshipped. But NPR was able to talk to one neighbor who gave her name only as Jamila (ph). And she paints a very different picture of Saipov and his wife and children. Let's listen to what she had to say.

JAMILA: He looked very calm, very friendly, very nice to kids, like, in the family. I am in shock to hear something like that from them.

KELLY: Now, meanwhile, Joel, tell us about what we know about this second man who the FBI had been looking to question. They've located him. Do we know if they've learned anything from him? Or what's the latest on that?

ROSE: We don't really know much more than that. I mean, we know that he's from Uzbekistan, like the suspect who is in custody. And according to public records, the second man and the suspect lived near each other in Tampa, Fla., for a while. But it is not clear why the FBI is interested in him. They are not calling him a suspect at this point. And initially the FBI said they were trying to locate him, then less than two hours later they said they'd found him. But that is pretty much where it stands.

KELLY: And meanwhile, there's a big event scheduled for this weekend. This is the New York City Marathon. It's set to take place on Sunday. I imagine security is going to be tight for that.

ROSE: It's high every year, especially since the Boston Marathon bombing. But NYPD officials say it will be even higher this year. The mayor and other elected officials, though, say it is important for life to go on. And a lot of runners agree. I saw thousands of them picking up their numbers today in New York. So 50,000 of them will be out on the streets...

KELLY: Yeah, all right.

ROSE: ...On Sunday.

KELLY: All right, well, that's something for New York to look forward to after a tough week. NPR's Joel Rose, thanks very much.

ROSE: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.