Prosecutors say Sayfullo Saipov followed ISIS playbook in deadly 2017 West Side Highway terror attack – CBS News

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By Alice Gainer
Updated on: January 18, 2023 / 6:48 PM / CBS New York
NEW YORK — It’s week two of the terror trial of Sayfullo Saipov.
He’s the Uzbekistan native accused of mowing down eight bicyclists with a rented truck along a path on the West Side Highway on Halloween 2017, he says in the name of ISIS.
Severed and twisted bicycles, a damaged yellow school bus, a crushed Home Depot rental truck and the path of death and destruction Saipov left was shown to jurors, as well as video of him running around with fake guns before being shot by a police officer.
Victim and witness testimony last week filled in the gaps for the court about the moments before the attack.
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Tourists from Belgium and Argentina on celebratory trips never saw the speeding truck behind them. Others from New York and New Jersey were merely commuting.
The defense admits he killed eight people; they didn’t cross examine any victim.
Saipov was willing to plead guilty to avoid the death penalty, but that was rejected.
While they’re not disputing the murder charge, they are denying the charge he provided material support to the Islamic State, saying he had no real connection to ISIS and he just watched general videos.
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Prosecutors called an expert to the stand Wednesday who studies jihadist groups.
He testified that whether you travel overseas to train with ISIS or commit an attack wherever you are, you’re identified the same when the terror group claims responsibility — as a soldier of the Islamic State or as a martyr if you’re killed.
Exhibits showed that through newsletters and videos on encrypted channels, ISIS basically has a terror playbook, instructing people on where and how to conduct an attack. It’s a playbook the prosecutors say Saipov followed.
The defense showed an ISIS propaganda video, attempting to show how Saipov was influenced and calling him a supporter, not a member. The expert on the stand, however, shot back that he believed in the eyes of ISIS, carrying out an attack would, in fact, make him a member.
The trial resumes Thursday.
Alice Gainer joined CBS2 as a reporter and anchor in January 2013. She covers breaking, feature and general assignment stories.
First published on January 18, 2023 / 6:25 PM
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