A federal grand jury returned a 22-count indictment Tuesday against Sayfullo Saipov in connection with the deadly terror attack on Manhattan's West Side on Halloween.
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The indictment treats the Islamic State, in whose name Saipov told police he carried out the attack, like a mafia family. It charges Saipov with murder in aid of racketeering, a charge federal prosecutors typically use in organized crime cases.
"Consumed by hate and a twisted ideology, Sayfullo Saipov allegedly barreled down a pedestrian walkway and bicycle path on a sunny afternoon on the west side of Manhattan, killing eight innocent people," acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said.
Saipov, a 29-year-old Uzbek native who had been living in New Jersey, has been in federal custody since the attack that killed eight people, including five Argentine men visiting New York to celebrate a high school reunion.
Saipov had previously been charged in a criminal complaint that accused him of two crimes, one of which made him eligible for the death penalty.
According to the indictment, Saipov allegedly told authorities he was inspired to carry out the attack by ISIS videos he had watched on his phone.
The indictment states "he decided to use a truck to inflict maximum damage against civilians," federal prosecutors said. He rented the truck a little more than a week prior to the attack on Oct. 31 to practice driving it.
Saipov allegedly planned to use the truck to strike pedestrians in the vicinity of the West Side Highway and then proceed to the Brooklyn Bridge to continue to strike pedestrians, the indictment states.
Instead, the attack stopped when Saipov hit a school bus, exited the truck waving two toy guns and was shot by police.
Saipov wanted to display ISIS flags in the front and back of the truck during the attack, but decided against it because he did not want to draw attention to himself, the indictment states.
He requested to display ISIS’s flag in his hospital room and stated that he felt good about what he had done, police said.