Finding a Rootless Life in U.S., Sayfullo Saipov Turned to Radicalism – The New York Times

Finding a Rootless Life in U.S., Sayfullo Saipov Turned to Radicalism – The New York Times

Thursday, November 2, 2017

6:39 PM

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New York By YOUSUR AL-HLOU and AINARA TIEFENTHÄLER Play Video 2:00 New York Terror Suspect’s Neighbors React


New York Terror Suspect’s Neighbors React

Residents of Paterson, N.J., where the New York terror suspect Sayfullo Saipov was living, reflect the morning after the killings.

By YOUSUR AL-HLOU and AINARA TIEFENTHÄLER on Publish Date November 1, 2017. Photo by Bryan anselm for The New York Times. Watch in Times Video »


Sayfullo Saipov left home in 2010, just after he celebrated his 22nd birthday and won the lottery to come to America. He never looked back, never again saw his hometown of Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, and never stopped moving.

Mr. Saipov drove a semi-truck for a living, logging tens of thousands of miles back and forth across the country, from Denver to Detroit, from Canton, Mass., to Salt Lake City. He moved his wife and children from state to state, always searching for something — friends in Ohio, a new life in Florida, family in New Jersey, where he started driving for Uber six months ago. Nothing ever stuck.

And on Tuesday, Mr. Saipov, now 29, who had spent so many hours on the road by himself, who a former friend said had “monsters inside,” decided to drive one last truck, this one a Home Depot rental, down a crowded bike path on the West Side of Manhattan, the authorities said. Eight people died.

As with any attack like this, there is no single reason Mr. Saipov reportedly decided to kill innocents, mostly tourists enjoying a blustery fall day, 56 degrees with blue skies. He had come to the United States as a moderate Muslim with dreams of making it. He married another Uzbek immigrant and fathered three children. But life did not work out the way Mr. Saipov had wanted. He could not find a job in the hotel business, in which he had worked back home. He developed a violent temper. He lost jobs. An imam in Florida worried that Mr. Saipov increasingly misinterpreted Islam.


Investigators removing evidence from Mr. Saipov’s home in Paterson on Wednesday. Credit Bryan Anselm for The New York Times

“I used to tell him: ‘Hey, you are too much emotional. Read books more. Learn your religion first,’” said Abdul, the imam, who did not want his last name used because he feared reprisals. “He did not learn religion properly. That’s the main disease in the Muslim community.”

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