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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

IS calls New York attacker 'soldier of the caliphate'

NEW YORK -- A propaganda arm of the Islamic State group is calling the man charged in the New York City truck rampage a "soldier of the caliphate."

A message in an Islamic State weekly newspaper used the term in an item published late Thursday. That item then was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.

The Islamic State group has an interest in taking credit for attacks carried out by individuals who are self-radicalized. Orlando nightclub gunman Omar Mateen said he acted on behalf of the group, which claimed him as a "soldier of the caliphate," but there is no evidence he was in contact with the group.

Police said truck attack suspect Sayfullo Saipov (sy-foo-LOH' sah-YEE'-pawf) drove his speeding truck onto a bike path on Tuesday, killing eight people and injuring 12.

One of the people injured has been told that five of his high school classmates from Argentina were killed that day.

Argentina's consul in New York, Mateo Estreme, said Martin Marro was visited Thursday at a Manhattan hospital by his friends who survived the attack and his wife.

Marro is a native of Argentina who currently lives just outside of Boston in Newton, Massachusetts, and works as a biomedical researcher. His high school classmates came to the US to visit him and celebrate the 30th anniversary of their graduation.

Estreme said Marro's friends wanted to tell him before they return to Argentina. He said Marro was conscious and it was very emotional for all of them.

The eight people killed when a rental truck rampaged down a Manhattan bike path are being remembered at a vigil and memorial march.

Five of those killed were a group of classmates from Argentina celebrating the 30th anniversary of their graduation. One was a mother of two young children visiting from Belgium, and two were Americans.

Thursday night's candlelight event started at Pier 40 on Manhattan's west side, where the man charged in the attack is accused of initiating the assault.

The deadly drive continued south for almost a mile.

About 100 mourners began walking along the promenade next to the route. It ends at Pier 25, just north of where the truck crashed into a bus and the suspect was taken into custody.

Two New Jersey mosques in the city where the suspect in the New York City bike path terror attack lived are receiving threats.

The Islamic Center of Passaic County said it has gotten eight telephone threats to burn the center down and kill its occupants, prompting extra police patrols in the area.

NorthJersey.com quotes Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale as saying the Omar Mosque, where Saipov is reported to have prayed, also received threats. Officials there did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Saipov, who lived next door to the Omar mosque, is charged with providing material support to the Islamic State group and violence and destruction of motor vehicles.
His attorney has said it's important to let the judicial process play out.

President Donald Trump's tweets calling for the death penalty in the Halloween bike path attack that killed eight people could legally be cited as a symptom of widespread government bias. But experts said it's unlikely they'll become a speed bump in the prosecution.

Trump wrote on Twitter late Wednesday that Saipov "SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!"

On Thursday, he tweeted that prosecutors "Should move fast. DEATH PENALTY!"

A Fordham Law School professor said judges can weed out bias and will reject any defense claims about it.

Saipov is at a federal lockup.

His lawyer, David Patton, said he hopes "everyone lets the judicial process play out."

The man the FBI said it was seeking as a person of interest in the New York truck attack has rebuked the plot and said it was "not from our religion."

On Wednesday, the FBI released a poster saying it was looking for Mukhammadzoir Kadirov, only to announce less than 90 minutes later that it had found him. He has not been detained or arrested.

On Thursday, Kadirov released a statement to The Associated Press through a person in touch with his family. It called the attack "sad and unbelievable." He said "no human being who has a heart can do this."

A law enforcement official said Kadirov was a friend of the suspect and may not have any role in the case. Saipov didn't have many friends, said the official, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. (AP)
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