An ISIS-inspired truck attack in New York City
Eight people were killed and 11 others injured this week when a suspected terrorist drove a pickup truck along a New York City bike path, mowing down cyclists and pedestrians near the World Trade Center before slamming into a school bus. Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, 29, a native of Uzbekistan who came to the U.S. in 2010, allegedly sped down the path for 14 blocks, leaving a trail of mangled bicycles in his wake, before exiting the truck carrying a paintball gun and a pellet gun and shouting “Allahu akbar!”—Arabic for “God is great!” He was shot and wounded by police moments later. Authorities said they found a note in his vehicle reading in Arabic “ISIS lives forever.” Saipov, who lives in New Jersey, had become radicalized domestically, law enforcement officials said, and followed ISIS’s instructions for truck attacks “almost exactly to a T.” Authorities later announced they were seeking information about a second Uzbek man, 32-year-old Mukhammadzoir Kadirov, in connection with the attack.
President Trump condemned the attacker as “sick” and called for “extreme” immigration vetting, adding, “We must not allow ISIS to return.” When details about Saipov emerged, Trump attacked a visa program that allowed Saipov to move to the U.S. “The terrorist came into our country through what is called the ‘Diversity Visa Lottery Program,’ a Chuck Schumer beauty,” Trump tweeted, referring to the Democratic Senate minority leader. Schumer accused Trump of politicizing the attack “and dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of national tragedy.”
What the columnists said
“Terrorists, like school shooters, learn from other attacks,” said Peter Bergen in CNN.com, and “no tactic has spread more quickly” among aspiring jihadists than masscasualty truck rammings. Since 2014, when ISIS first urged its supporters to weaponize vehicles, terrorists have plowed into crowds on 15 occasions—mowing down pedestrians on London Bridge, at a Berlin Christmas market, and now a New York bike path. “Simple to mount and largely unstoppable,” such attacks have already killed 142 people.
They don’t have to be the new normal in the U.S., said Andrew McCarthy in NationalReview.com. Saipov was here thanks to the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, a harebrained liberal scheme that hands out 50,000 visas annually to foreigners in a bid to diversify— aka, dilute—our culture. President Trump is right. We should dump this dangerous program, fully implement his travel ban, and use extreme vetting to weed out ISIS sympathizers. If we can’t do that, “then we cannot protect the country. Period.”
Nothing Trump has suggested so far would have stopped Saipov, said Greg Sargent in WashingtonPost.com. His home country, Uzbekistan, isn’t on Trump’s travel ban list. He was vetted for his green card and didn’t become radicalized until after he entered the U.S. Trump’s stark rhetoric may appeal to people “who want to believe there is something we can do to stop the world’s Saipovs,” said Sarah Jones in NewRepublic.com. Unfortunately, “reality is messier. There will always be Saipovs.” ■