Terror attacks have become common in various large cities and towns across the world. New York City is one of the largest in the United States and has been the target of numerous terror attacks. These terrorist attacks have claimed property, and the lives of many people, several of these attacks have utilized explosives, as well as other various weapons.
New York City is an international symbol of freedom and equality, which makes the city a prime target for those individuals who disagree with those theories. For example: In 2009, an immigrant from Afghan identified as Najibullah Zazi was arrested for planning to commit suicide by detonating explosives while traveling on the New York City subway system (Clarke, 2017). A year later, Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American citizen, was arrested for trying to blow up a vehicle in Times Square (Clarke, 2017). However, in 2017 the first terrorist attack in New York City utilizing a vehicle as the primary weapon occurred.
This paper analyses that vehicle-ramming attack, which took place on October 31, 2017, in the lower Manhattan district.
The New York terror attack that took place on October 31, 2017, was a play right out of the al-Qaida online magazine ‘Inspire.’ The Jihadi leaders have been encouraging its faithful followers to utilize ordinary vehicles as killing devices, specifically to ‘mow down the enemies of Allah (Judith Miller, 2017).’ On Halloween Sayfullo Saipov, 29 from Uzbekistan in the United States on a ‘Diversity Visa’ lottery, would accept the challenge. Saipov rented a truck from Home Depot and would drive it at a high rate of speed down a crowded bike path filled with unsuspected bikers and walkers. It would take Saipov less than ten minutes, to strike and kill eight people and injure several more. He would then lead the police on a chase hitting a school bus. Upon exiting the vehicle shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’- ‘God is Great’ in Arabic (Judith Miller, 2017). With what appeared to be two firearms, a responding officer shot the suspect wounding him in the stomach.
The incident was declared as a terror attack by Mayor Bill de Blasio; because of that investigation into the attack were assumed by federal law enforcement authorities. A federal grand jury indicated that Saipov had immigrated to the United States from Uzbekistan in 2010 and had a history of murders, attempted murders, and cooperating with a terrorist organization (Benjamin et al., 2017). The incident was considered the deadliest terrorist attack in New York City since September 11, 2001 (Benjamin et al., 2017).
After a detailed investigation, federal authorities discovered handwritten notes in Arabic inside the truck, clearly showed that Saipov had committed to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (isis). This group has been behind numerous attacks in the United States, and it is possible that they could have sponsored Sayfullo Saipov to undertake an attack on innocent citizens in Manhattan (Benjamin et al., 2017).
Social underpinnings of the group
ISIS is a destructive extremist group that is associated with different beliefs, such as remaking the world through jihad. Most scholars argue that ISIS is not part of the Islamic religion; hence should be treated as a different group that has independence motives and beliefs that justifies their actions of killing innocent citizens across the world (Jones et al., 2017). The rise of the group is linked to the ineffectiveness of U.S leadership in combating Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Jones et al. (2017) indicate that ISIS aims at establishing an Islamic based state known as Caliphate across the different countries of Syria, Iraq, and beyond.
ISIS follows the Sharia Law mainly as it works towards establishing a society that mirrors Islam’s ancient past. ISIS has been involved in numerous public executions, attacks, crucifixions, and many other criminal acts that have claimed the lives of both Muslims and non-Muslims across the world (Gomes & Mikhael, 2018). The activities of attacks done by ISIS are fueled through the use of different modern tools like social media, for example. These tools are used to promote reactionary politics and religious fundamentalism, which one of the strategies that have kept the group in the limelight. The group is also fond of destroying holy sites and valuable antiquities of the Islamic faith even though their leaders claim to be fighting to bring back the early days of Islam (Gomes & Mikhael, 2018).
Role of media in the terror attack
The media played a crucial role concerning the New York terror attack on October 31, 2017, and their efforts yielded numerous benefits, most notably concerning investigations and making several improvements to the bike path (Shimon et al., 2017). Several cell phone recording of the incident began to appear on social media, giving real-time notifications of the event. The video recordings were used during the investigation allowing authorities to see how the attack transpired (Shimon et al., 2017). The media coverage of the attack allowed New York City authorities to see there was a security risk and allowed them to start planning on how to improve the safety of the bike path as well as other soft target areas throughout the city. New York City authorities responding by initially installing concrete barriers which were recently replaced with metal bollards along the bike path to prevent future attacks, and bollards are also placed throughout the city to stop this type of attack from occurring in other highly populated areas and preventing vehicles from having the ability to jump curbs. In this specific attack, the media was beneficial to the investigation, providing evidence as well as highlighting a safety concern.
Level of achievement of the group’s objectives and motives
The aim of the attacker was an attempt at inflicting maximum carnage, create fear and panic. At the time of the incident, schools had just been released, and parents were waiting to walk their children home when Saipov drove his rental truck down the crowded bike path, with no shortage of helpless victims. If not for the responding officers, Saipov could have been successful in his mission of killing thousands of people. Eight people were killed and several more injured more lives could have been lost if not for the quick response of law enforcement.
Reports indicate that a few hours after the attack, the famously New York’s Village Halloween Parade went on as planned (Benjamin et al., 2017). Ironically, Saipov’s mission failed; the people of New York were not scared, and most importantly, Saipov was denied the death toll that he was hoping to achieve. However, he succeeded in claiming the lives of eight individuals, which was a small achievement (Shimon et al., 2017).
In conclusion, New York City remains a prime target for terrorist attacks and has faced several attacks completed by different extremist groups such as ISIS, which have had diverse effects on both the lives and property of people. Sayfullo Saipov, who had committed to ISIS and carried out the attack as described in the online magazine ‘Inspire.’ Saipov was inspired to commit the attack by ISIS, had planned the attack for weeks, even renting the vehicle months before the attack to practice driving the vehicle. After his arrest, authorities located several ISIS-related notes, videos inside of a bag in the truck. Sayfullo Saipov, brought to light how real the threat of ISIS is within the United States. ISIS is successful in its recruiting, and there are several others like Saipov who are working towards creating an Islamic state called Caliphate. They believe the only way to achieve his objective is through jihadism, which involves public executions of innocent souls. Terrorist attacks have continued into the 21st Century and are not about to end, and this calls for the United States to continue working on ways to prevent terrorist attacks.
- Shimon Prokupecz, Eric Levenson, Brynn Gingras, and Steve Almasy. (2017). Note found near truck claims Manhattan attack done for ISIS, source says. Retrieved from CNN: https://edition.cnn.com/2017/10/31/us/new-york-shots-fired/index.html
- Benjamin Mueller, W. K. (2017). Terror Attack Kills 8 and Injures 11 in Manhattan. Retrieved from The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/31/nyregion/police-shooting-lower-manhattan.html?auth=link-dismiss-google1tap
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