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10 important details from the feds’ case against the NYC terror suspect

The maximum penalty for the first charge against the alleged NYC terrorist is life in prison, and the second carries the death penalty.

Just 24 hours after police arrested Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov for driving down a Lower Manhattan bike path and killing eight people, law enforcement officials charged the Uzbek national in a criminal complaint.

Saipov stands accused of provision of material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization — specifically, ISIS — and violence and destruction of a motor vehicle with reckless disregard for human life. The maximum penalty for the first charge is life in prison, while the second carries the death penalty. Prosecutors have yet to announce whether they’ll seek it.

Here are the most important details from the feds’ case against Saipov so far:

  • Saipov told officials that he started planning an attack against the United States about a year ago, but only settled on using a truck about two months ago, “in order to inflict maximum damage against civilians,” according to the FBI agent who wrote the complaint. (Recent terror attacks in London and Nice, France — among other cities — involved vehicles, and ISIS has encouraged its militants to use them.)
  • Saipov deliberately chose to attack on Halloween because he thought more people would be out on the streets. The search history of a cell phone officials recovered from the truck contained an Oct. 15 search for Halloween in New York City.
  • Saipov practiced his attack. On Oct. 22, Saipov rented a truck “so he could practice making turns.”
  • After he collided with the school bus, Saipov leapt out of his truck carrying a pellet gun and a paintball gun. But officials also recovered three knives, a stun gun, and two cell phones from his car. One of those cell phones contained about 90 videos and 3,800 photos — many of which were ISIS propaganda. That propaganda included videos of ISIS militants running over someone with a tank, shooting someone in the face, and beheading someone. Another video depicted instructions on how to make a homemade bomb.
  • As he jumped out of the truck, Saipov yelled “Allahu Akbar,” which is Arabic for “God is great.” He also left behind a document, written in both English and Arabic, that read, “No God but God and Muhammad is his Prophet,” and, “Islamic Supplication. It will endure.” According to the complaint, “it” refers to ISIS.” There’s no evidence in the complaint that Saipov ever actually met or talked with anyone associated with ISIS.
  • Saipov could have hurt more people, if things had gone according to plan — he originally wanted to drive all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge.
  • Officials did read Saipov his Miranda rights — which include the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney — before interviewing him, but Saipov waived them. Initially, there was some confusion over whether Saipov would get those rights; Arizona’s Republican Sen. John McCain, for example, called for officials to not read Saipov his Miranda rights and to instead classify him as an “enemy combatant.”
  • Saipov asked that an ISIS flag be hung in his hospital room at Bellevue Hospital, where he was taken after being shot in the abdomen by a New York Police Department officer. He also considered hanging ISIS flags on the front and back of the truck but decided it would draw too much attention.
  • During his interview with law enforcement, Saipov “stated that he felt good about what he had done,” according to the complaint.
  • We still don’t know everything. Because the FBI is submitting the complaint in order to establish probable cause, it doesn’t include every last detail of law enforcement officials’ interactions with Saipov. Joon Kim, the acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said it’s possible more charges against Saipov will be included in his indictment.