US prosecutors file terrorism charges against NYC truck attack suspect

World Today

It was a terror attack that took a long-time planning. That’s what New York police said about the truck rampage in Manhattan, where eight people were killed. U.S. prosecutors are now filing terrorism charges against the 29-year-old suspect.

CGTN’s John Terrett reports from New York.

The suspect,Sayfullo Saipov, charged with Federal crimes entered a courtroom in a wheelchair with handcuffs, and feet shackled. He told police he wanted to target the Brooklyn Bridge, too, and picked Halloween day deliberately to attack the most number of people.

A news conference confirmed the grim facts: eight people dead, five from Argentina in town for a school reunion, one Belgian, two from the U.S.

New York City’s mayor Bill De Blasio called it the definition of terrorism and encouraged New Yorkers to be resilient.

“Show the whole world right now that we will not be moved by terror,” De Blasio said.

The Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, didn’t mince words and said “This was the actions of a depraved coward.”

And more has been revealed about the suspect and his motives. Police searched the 29-year-old’s home in New Jersey, and searched the hired truck he drove on Tuesday. Investigators found multiple knives in addition to imitation guns.

New York Deputy Police Commissioner, John Miller, in charge of intelligence and counter-terrorism, said the attack had been carried out in strict adherence to calls for violence put out by ISIL – also known as ISIS.

“It appears that Mr. Saipov had been planning this for a number of weeks. He did this in the name of ISIS,” said Miller. “He appears to have followed, almost exactly to a ‘T’ the instructions that ISIS has put out in its social media channels before.”

Saipov entered the U.S. from Uzbekistan legally in 2010 as part of a U.S. Diversity Visa Lottery program, where people living in countries with lower levels of immigration to the U.S. can randomly be awarded visas.

In his first comments since the attack, U.S. President Donald Trump said he’s taking steps to dismantle the program.

“We want to immediately work with Congress on the diversity lottery program– on terminating it, getting rid of it,” said Trump. “We want a merit-based program, where people come into our country based on merit.”

Late Wednesday, the rental truck used in Tuesday’s attack was removed—a sign that city life is returning to normal.

But two things can’t be towed away though: the huge police presence will remain through next week, and the sense of unease felt by many here, knowing their home has been targeted again.

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