Jose Lambiet

NY pickup terror suspect used to drive a much bigger rig

Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, 29, is an Uzbekistan national who entered the U.S. in 2010. Saipov is believed to be the man who killed eight people and injured more than 12 in lower Manhattan on Oct. 31, 2017, by driving a rental truck on a bike path. Saipov is seen in an undated handout photo provided by the St. Charles MO Dept of Corrections.
Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, 29, is an Uzbekistan national who entered the U.S. in 2010. Saipov is believed to be the man who killed eight people and injured more than 12 in lower Manhattan on Oct. 31, 2017, by driving a rental truck on a bike path. Saipov is seen in an undated handout photo provided by the St. Charles MO Dept of Corrections. TNS

When he lived in Florida, according to state records, Manhattan terror suspect Sayfullo Saipov had a weapon that could have been much more lethal than the pickup truck he allegedly used to mow down dozens of bicyclists Tuesday, killing eight.

Saipov, 29, once owned a 60,000-pound tractor-trailer, according to motor vehicle records.

The professional trucker lived off and on in Tampa since 2011, the records show. And at the time he rented an $800-a-month condo near the Busch Gardens theme park in June 2015, Saipov obtained a Florida Class A driver’s license to operate big rigs.

A month later, Saipov registered the license plate of a semi-trailer, a 2006 Freightliner Columbia truck worth about $15,000.

He was assigned Florida plate N9311U.

The registration papers indicate Saipov appears to have bought the big rig with cash, as they list no bank or credit company as a lien holder.

By December 2015, however, Saipov failed to renew the truck’s registration, making it illegal for him to drive it. It’s unclear whether he sold the truck.

Records also show Saipov bought a Great Dane trailer for heavy hauling in 2014 in Ohio then sold it to a business in Palm Beach County two years later.

Yamilet Sanchez Vizcay, one of the owners of the trucking business Mather Home Florida, said she didn’t remember the bearded terrorist.

“I saw his face on the television,” Vizcay said, “but I have no idea if he ever sold us anything. Don’t know him.”

Tractor-trailers similar in size and weight to Saipov’s have been used in several terror incidents in Europe, including in Cannes, France, where on Bastille Day last year, 86 passersby were killed, and in Berlin Dec. 19, 2016, when 12 people were killed.

Craig Gundry, a vice president with the Tampa armed security service company Critical Intervention Services, said the popularity of large trucks in terror attacks could warrant new screening measures for commercial driver’s licenses.

“Governments should consider studying the feasibility of additional screening measures for commercial drivers,” said Gundry, who teaches anti-terrorism classes internationally. “Of course, government would have to assess the benefits, but the discussion should start.”

Gundry said mental health screening could be added to the conditions to obtain a license as well as checks with terror watch lists.

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