The Islamic State sympathizer accused of killing eight people in the Hudson River bike path attack was under government surveillance “for years,” according to new court papers.
The revelation included in a heavily redacted filing in Manhattan federal court from Saipov’s defense team raises questions about whether the government could have done more to prevent the alleged act of terrorism.
“The government revealed it had been surveilling Mr. Saipov and two of his associates for years, recording his conversations with them to gather information about his personal contacts, professional experiences, finances, and potential exposure to ISIS propaganda, violent jihadism, and Islamic extremism,” Saipov’s federal defender Andrew Dalack wrote on Monday.
Prosecutors disclosed the feds had been spying on Saipov prior to the Oct. 31, 2017, attack only five months ago. The government has refused to reveal more details because prosecutors do not plan to introduce the surveillance during trial.
Dalack argues the surveillance has major implications for his death penalty trial scheduled for next year. Saipov’s defense could argue there were others who influenced him and share culpability for the alleged terrorist attack.
The new filing includes specific examples of how Saipov’s attorneys have come to a new understanding of his alleged “radicalization.” The passages are redacted from the memo posted in court records.
But Saipov’s legal team says it does not have a full grasp of the government’s investigation into his “background, activities, and exposure to violent jihadism.”
A former law enforcement source familiar with the Saipov investigation previously told the New York Daily News that the Islamic State sympathizer had been caught on a wiretap before the truck attack speaking with a fellow Uzbek.
The new filing confirms that Saipov was not an investigative target prior to the rampage in a rental pickup truck stretching 14 blocks, according to the new papers. A police officer shot Saipov in the abdomen, ending the mayhem.
Last year the alleged terrorist delivered a pro-Islamic State rant in court that he does not recognize the “weak minds” who created man-made laws.
Saipov attorney David Patton wrote earlier this month that he hoped to have the accused terrorist’s family testifies in his defense in an effort to “show the possibility of redemption.”
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