The terrorist who allegedly killed eight people by ramming into them with a truck on a Lower Manhattan bike path smiled at the thought of his murderous rampage while giving a proud confession to an FBI agent soon after the 2017 attack, a federal prosecutor said at the start of his trial Monday.
Sayfullo Saipov, 34, repeatedly proclaimed his support for ISIS after the attack, including to an FBI agent who is set to testify at his terrorism trial in Manhattan federal court, Assistant US Attorney Alexander Li told jurors in his opening statement.
“He smiled at the memory of his attack and asked for an ISIS flag to hang in his hospital room,” Li said, adding Saipov was eager to speak with the FBI and provide a “proud confession.”
The prosecutor described the horror that unfolded that Halloween afternoon when Saipov, an immigrant from Uzbekistan, indiscriminately mowed down pedestrians and cyclists after mounting the bike path from the West Side Highway in a rented truck.
“It was a scene of destruction and horror. Mangled bikes covered the bike path, their riders — human beings — lay unconscious or dead. Survivors staggered around searching for family and friends,” Li said.
“Screams filled the air,” he added.
Prosecutors allege Saipov started following ISIS three years prior to the attack, and carried it out in order to become a “soldier” in the failed caliphate.
Evidence at the trial, which is expected to take a number of months, will show Saipov publicly expressed his devotion to the terror group, Li told jurors.
He did so in the smiling statement he gave to an FBI investigator, in phone calls with his family from prison and even statements he made during court appearances after his arrest.
After running down his victims at speeds that reached above 60 miles per hour, Saipov crashed the truck into a school bus, which was carrying two children, Li said.
One of the children suffered “serious brain damage” and another passenger suffered broken ribs and an injury to her liver, Li added.
Saipov then emerged from the mangled truck and pointed a fake gun at a responding police officer, who shot him, ending the rampage.
Saipov allegedly killed a total of eight people, including five tourists visiting from Argentina who were pedaling along the bike path that day.
He faces 28 counts for the terror attack and will face the death penalty if convicted. The jury will have to vote unanimously to sentence him to death.
Saipov’s defense attorney, David Patton, will deliver an opening statement Monday afternoon.