In addition to a potential accomplice that has since been arrested, an image of an ISIS flag on a cellphone near the location of the terrorist attack in NY surfaced two months ago.
According to the police complaint against Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, the 29-year-old began planning the attack close to a year ago. The complaint asserts that Saipov watched and was inspired by ISIS videos.
One of the two cellphones that were found in the truck had close to 90 violent ISIS propaganda videos on it, some with information on how to make a bomb.
John Miller, deputy New York police commissioner for intelligence, noted that Saipov “appears to have followed, almost exactly to a ‘T,’ the instructions that ISIS has put out.”
It is highly unlikely that Saipov was not communicating to other ISIS followers and leaders who most likely encouraged, supported and even aided him in carrying out the attack.
Terrorist “cells” do not necessarily have to be in physical proximity in the age of online communication.
As for an accomplice, the man the police were looking for was named as Mukhammadzoir Kadirov, a 32-year-old Uzbekistan national. “We have found him and I’ll leave it at that,” said William Sweeney, head of the New York FBI office.
Saipov attended the Omar Mosque which was near his home in Paterson, N.J. It was one of the mosques and Islamic organizations that were being monitored by the NYPD in their now-defunct surveillance program.
The NYPD investigations, which began in the years after the 9/11 attacks, centered around whether or not extremists or potential terrorists might be attending the mosque, infiltrating and attempting to sway others to their line of thinking.
The Omar Mosque had been under surveillance since at least 2006 due to this possibility.
In 2011, the Associated Press began running a series of articles detailing and making public the NYPD surveillance program (articles for which they won a Pulitzer Prize). The articles set off a campaign of misinformation from Islamists and their allies aimed at smearing the department’s anti-terrorism efforts.
By 2014, under intensive pressure, the NYPD tanked the program. Islamist agitator Linda Sarsour was one of the activists prominent in this campaign to get the program cancelled, saying that the program “created psychological warfare in our community.”
The facts, however, consistently showed that the NYPD was not casting a wide net over Muslims in the hopes of nabbing a few terrorists. Its targets were chosen on concrete information. That is why the NYPD won bi-partisan praise at the time, with Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer endorsing then NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly to lead the Department of Homeland Security.
The Islamists argued that the NYPD should pay them for damages resulting from its intelligence-gathering on them, however, according to the judge, the only reason these plaintiffs could allege that they were suffering was because the Associated Press detailed the NYPD operations to the public.
Perhaps if the program had not been cancelled, the latest terrorist attack might have been prevented.
In an interview by law enforcement officials, Saipov asked if he could display the ISIS flag in hospital room. According to the police complaint, he told the officials, “he felt good about what he had done.”
Investigators also recovered close to a dozen pieces of paper with Arabic writing on them praising ISIS. One said, “ISIS will endure.”
He said he would have liked to have continued the attack with his truck, killing more people, but couldn’t after he crashed into a school bus. Knives were also recovered at the scene.