NEW YORK: Sayfullo Saipov’s arrival in the United States in 2010 began unceremoniously in Ohio. “My dad introduced him as, ‘He’s new to the United States, and he’s going to stay with us,’ ” said Bekhzod Abdusamatov, 22.
Saipov, the suspect in the terrorist attack in Lower Manhattan that killed eight people on Tuesday, arrived from Tashkent — the Uzbek capital and its largest city — knowing little English, Abdusamatov said. He spent those early days in the US looking for a job and trying to improve his English, Abdusamatov said. But he was also a late sleeper. As investigators began on Tuesday to look into Saipov’s history, it became clear that he had been on the radar of federal authorities.
Three officials said he had come to their attention as a result of an unrelated investigation, but it was not clear whether that was because he was a friend, an associate or a family member of someone under scrutiny or because he had been the focus of an investigation.Over the last two years, a terrorism investigation by the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the New York Police Department and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn resulted in charges against five men from Uzbekistan and one from Kazakhstan of providing material support to ISIS. Several of the men have pleaded guilty. It is unclear whether Saipov was connected with that investigation.
After a move to New Jersey, Saipov eventually settled in Paterson and began driving for Uber. Saipov had earned a green card, according to a law enforcement official who spoke under the condition of anonymity because the investigation was proceeding, and had entered the country through Kennedy International Airport.
An Uber official said Saipov had passed the company’s background check. “We have been in contact with the FBI and have offered our assistance,” the official said. “We will remain in close contact with law enforcement and the FBI to assist with their investigation.