The man who drove a truck onto a crowded New York City sidewalk killing eight people and injuring a dozen more defended ISIS and invoked “Allah” during a court hearing over the weekend.
A U.S. District Judge has set his trial date for Oct. 7, nearly two years after the deadly attack, CBS News reported.
Sayfullo Saipov used a Home Depot rental tuck to mow over pedestrians on a busy bike path along Manhattan’s West Side Highway on Oct. 31, 2017.
In his most recent court appearance, Saipov said that the prosecutors’ decisions during his trial were unimportant to him and that he cared only about “Allah” and the holy war being waged by ISIS.
“I understand you, but I’m not worried about that at all,” Saipov told U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick.
“So the Islamic State is not fighting for land, like some say, or like some say, for oil. They have one purpose, and they’re fighting to impose Sharia (Islamic law) on earth,” he said.
Saipov went on for about 10 minutes using a translator, during which time Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Beaty called on the judge to stop Saipov’s “terrorist propaganda” comments.
The judge allowed Saipov to finish and declared that the man likely would not be allowed to speak out in court again.
Following the attack, Saipov bragged to police about what he had done, and said that he wishes he could have caused more harm.
A note found inside the truck written by Saipov said that he carried out the attack in the name of the Islamic State.
Saipov used the Diversity Immigrant Visa program to come to the U.S. from Uzbekistan in 2010, and became radicalized after communicating with ISIS members online.
The man ultimately pleaded not guilty to the attack during his initial indictment.
Prosecutors say that the Justice Department will likely decide by the end of the summer whether to seek the death penalty against him.
Prosecutors originally sought an April 2019 trial date for Saipov, citing the need for a “prompt and firm trial date” for the families affected by the terrorist attack.
“The victims here are anxious now when that trial is going to be,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Houle said in court. “The public deserves a speedy trial, and the surviving victims deserve to know when that trial is going to be.”
However, the court case will likely drag on for months to come.
If the death penalty is sought, Saipov’s lawyer said that the additional legal challenges presented would call for a longer trial. His lawyer also cited the difficulty of gathering information for the defense case overseas.
Saipov said during an earlier court appearance that he may plead guilty to all counts and seek a life sentence instead of the death penalty.