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The Jetstream Journal

Halloween Terror

The+Home+Depot+rental+truck+sits+vacant+after+terrorist+Sayfullo+Saipov+uses+it+to+commit+the+vehicle-ramming+attack.+Labeled+for+reuse+under+Wikimedia+Commons.
The Home Depot rental truck sits vacant after terrorist Sayfullo Saipov uses it to commit the vehicle-ramming attack. Labeled for reuse under Wikimedia Commons.

The Home Depot rental truck sits vacant after terrorist Sayfullo Saipov uses it to commit the vehicle-ramming attack. Labeled for reuse under Wikimedia Commons.

The Home Depot rental truck sits vacant after terrorist Sayfullo Saipov uses it to commit the vehicle-ramming attack. Labeled for reuse under Wikimedia Commons.

Jonathan Flat, Managing Editor

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Rental trucks: the new fertilizer bomb?

Across the globe, terrorists are finding new methods of wreaking havoc on innocent civilians. On October 31, 2017, Sayfullo Habibullaevich Saipov, a 29-year-old immigrant from Uzbekistan, used a rented Home Depot pickup truck to mow down cyclists and runners on the Hudson River Park’s bike path in Lower Manhattan, New York City. Saipov barreled along the path for about 1 mile, killing 8 people and injuring 11 others. The chaos ended when Saipov crashed into a bus that was transporting students with special needs; 4 people on the bus were injured. At this time, Saipov exited his vehicle wielding two guns (later determined to be a pellet gun and a paintball gun). Shortly after, he was shot in the abdomen by an NYPD officer, taken into custody, and transported to a local hospital for treatment.

A note found near the truck claimed that Saipov performed the terrorist attack in the name of the Islamic State. Likewise, witnesses as well as police at the scene reported that the suspect was shouting “Allahu Akbar” as he exited the rental truck. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force took over the lead of the investigation and charged Sayfullo Saipov with destruction of a motor vehicle and providing material support for a terrorist organisation.

As an Uzbek national who entered the United States in 2010 under a Diversity Immigrant Visa, Sayfullo Saipov was likely self-radicalized in the United States. While in custody, Saipov waived his Miranda Rights and told authorities that he had been planning the Halloween attack for about a year. According to a criminal complaint, he requested to display the ISIS flag in his hospital room and “stated that he feels good about what he had done.”

Truck-ramming attacks like the one executed by Saipov have become increasingly popular among terrorist organizations. According to the FBI, the tactic has amassed popularity because it “offers terrorists with limited access to explosives or weapons an opportunity to conduct a homeland attack with minimal prior training or experience.” Even at relatively slow speeds, a vehicle has the potential to cause severe damage to pedestrians, bikers, or even people in other vehicles.

Attending a public school on the United States Air Force Academy, Air Academy High School students are reminded every day of the ongoing threat of terrorism in America. This reminder comes as each student must pass through a secure gate leading onto the Academy. “It’s mortifying how some people can have the will to hurt others, and it’s so easy to get a truck that the possibility for an attack is alarming,” says Parmida Mahdavi, a sophomore here at Air Academy. This sentiment is somewhat common, especially with recent threats and attacks happening in the Colorado Springs area. Two years ago, there was a shooting at the local Planned Parenthood. Just yesterday on November 14, an armed gunman threatened to shoot others at the Walmart closest to our school. The “gunman” was determined to be armed with only an unloaded BB gun, but the threat was enough to cause the entire store to undergo a lock-down.

Stay safe, Kadets.

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Halloween Terror