ISIS lone wolf doomed

The Uzbek Sayfullo Saipov who ran over and killed eight people on a Manhattan bike lane in 2017 – including five from Rosario who were pedaling – was sentenced to life in prison without parole. The death penalty was a possibility, but that verdict required a unanimous decision that the jury fell short of. The sentence will be served in the federal Supermax prison in Colorado, the most secure in the US.

The five Argentines who died were in the US celebrating the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation at the Instituto Politécnico Superior de Rosario. During the trial in the Southern District Court of New York, people close to Saipov attempted a clemency petition explaining that he had fallen for “ISIS recruitment networks and convinced him that what he did on October 31, 2017 was A blessing to him and his family.”

Also testifying at the trial was Noah Tucker, an expert on ISIS, for whom Saipov received extremist propaganda before the attack: “the recruitment of Uzbek citizens by the terrorist organization was remarkably successful.”

For the attack, the terrorist rented a truck at a Home Depot location and sped toward a bike path on the banks of the Hudson River in Lower Manhattan, generating the worst attack since September 11, 2001. The criminal raid ended when the truck collided with a school bus and the attacker jumped out of the vehicle shouting in Arabic “God is great”, until a police officer shot him in the abdomen.

The dead Argentines were Hernán Mendoza, Diego Angelini, Alejandro Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij and Hernán Ferruchi, as well as two Americans and a Belgian.

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Ana Evans, widow of Hernán Mendoza, sent the judges a text through her lawyer, declaring that “before the murder of my partner and father of my children, Hernán Mendoza, our personal and family life project, based on love mutual, first of all, has been destroyed forever.Moreover, through his terrorist act, carried out by this ISIS attacker, the defendant has challenged the very foundation of laws and ways of life, built on the principles of respect to liberty and the right of all peoples to self-determination”.

The trial was the first to raise the possibility of a death penalty within the Biden administration, which had campaigned against capital punishment. It was also an unusual case in the state of New York, where judicial executions are very rare: the last was in 1963.

Saipov had left Uzbekistan in 2010 after winning a US visa by lottery. His lawyer asked that he not be given the death penalty because he had become radicalized after watching countless hours of videos of Muslim martyrdoms.

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