The Manhattan terrorist suspect was a CDL holder

Saipov was booked in Missouri in 2016 for missing a court date related to faulty brakes on his semi.

Sayfullo Saipov, the 29 year old Uzbek immigrant who has been charged with using a Home Depot rental truck to kill 8 people in Manhattan on Wednesday, was a CDL holder who had attempted to start multiple trucking companies in the U.S. Saipov entered the United States through JFK airport in 2010, after winning a ‘diversity visa’ in a lottery designed to bring in immigrants from underrepresented nations. Saipov settled with fellow Uzbeks near Cincinnati and within months, he had obtained his CDL and incorporated a trucking company called Sayf Motors, based in Symmes Township, Ohio. 

CDL Life has reported on Saipov’s checkered driving history. Saipov’s violations started piling up early: in October 2011, he was cited in Nebraska for violating the 11 hour rule. Six weeks later, Saipov was dinged again for an overweight infraction. Around this time, he incorporated another Ohio trucking company called Bright Motors, based in Cuyahoga Falls, north of Akron. Shortly thereafter, Saipov moved to Tampa and again incorporated a trucking company.

In March of 2014, Saipov was cited again in Nebraska for blowing through a weigh station, and in 2017, Saipov was fined yet again in Nebraska for an overweight violation. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that Saipov did not have a criminal record other than these motor vehicle violations, which are fairly common for drivers in the trucking industry, although a warrant was issued for Saipov’s arrest in Missouri in April 2016 when he missed a hearing on a misdemeanor for not having the right brakes on his vehicle. 

Saipov apparently had been planning his attack for a year, after watching ISIS videos on his cell phone. Two months ago he hatched his truck-attack scheme, following instructions from the internet on how a vehicle could be weaponized. Saipov had been driving for Uber out of Paterson, NJ,  for six months, with over 1,400 trips logged, when he rented the truck he allegedly used to murder innocent people in New York City.

The first known truck-ramming terrorist attack occurred in Pakistan in 2001. According to the American Federal Bureau of Investigation, the tactic has gained popularity because “Vehicle ramming offers terrorists with limited access to explosives or weapons an opportunity to conduct a homeland attack with minimal prior training or experience.” 

Since the War on Terror began in 2001, surveillance of suspected terrorists has increased dramatically, many terrorists leaders have been killed or imprisoned, and intelligence-sharing capabilities between agencies and nations have solidified. These developments have deprived terrorists of training opportunities and arms, and forced them to resort to tactics like truck-ramming attacks, which are much less lethal than, for example, truck bombs, but are nearly impossible to prevent. 

Still, there are things rental truck fleet owners can watch for. The FBI has released a list of potential indicators of terrorist activities related to rental cars. 

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John Paul Hampstead, Associate Editor

John Paul writes about current events and economics, especially politics, finance, and commodities, and holds a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Michigan. In previous lives John Paul studied Shakespeare in London and Buddhism in India, but now he focuses on transportation and logistics in the heart of Freight Alley--Chattanooga. He spends his free time with his wife and daughter herding cats, collecting books, and walking alongside the Tennessee River.