• Daniel Ethan Finneran

Terrorist Attacks New York

November 2017

A brief word on the most recent terrorist attack to sweep New York City. Not since September 11th, 2001 has Manhattan experienced so deadly and so unexpected an assault. Sixteen years ago, it was “the base”, or al-Qaeda who bored a hole through the World Trade Center and tore a hole through America’s heart. Today it is Daesh, ISIS, or ISIL. When the former crashed its planes into our pregnable twin towers, nearly three thousand people died.

As of last week, after the ISIS-inspired Sayfullo Saipov swerved his rented Home Depot truck into a group of pedestrians on the city’s sidewalk, eight have been pronounced dead.

The immediate history that led to Saipov’s act is in itself harrowing. Aged twenty-nine, the Uzbek national rented a Home Depot truck from one of the company’s northern New Jersey locations. Wanting to hone his ability and practice handling what would be his weapon, Saipov decided first to take the truck out for a test-drive. Smitten with his skill, and impatient to enact his plan, he then returned two days later to rent the truck again. This time, however, he hadn’t the intent to ever bring it back. With keys in hand, and slaughter in mind, he mounted what was to become an orange carriage of carnage and headed east.

He proceeded to drive across the state line into the city that never sleeps. En route, he considered hanging in the rear windshield his ISIS flag, that black and baleful rag commonly affixed to an impending atrocity. He thought better of this, however, and opted instead to bury it in the back seat. Considering the conspicuity it would bring, this was probably a wise decision; had he left it up, he likely wouldn’t have reached the city’s streets without first being stopped. Along with the flag, he was accompanied in the truck with two faux firearms—one paintball and one pellet—a cellphone infested with ISIS propaganda, and his personal epistles exalting Daesh and his deity.

Although it wasn’t yet evening, which would have brought more trick-or-treating Manhattanites onto the streets, Saipov had a plan to kill as many people as possible. Perhaps, if he was less eager and more calculated, and less impetuous and more depraved, he might’ve waited an hour or two to strike. By doing so, Saipov might’ve inflicted even more damage with the evening’s forthcoming festivities about to begin, and with the cover of darkness slowly settling in.

Instead, he decided to act in the late afternoon. It was three o’clock when he finally careened his truck into a bike lane abutting the street. Without cement barriers, which are commonplace in other parts of the city, the bikers had little if any protection. Saipov barreled into them, pushed on his accelerator, and devoured twenty in his path. Upon impact, eight died immediately (six of whom were from foreign nations, including five from Argentina and one from Belgium) and twelve others were injured severely. Satisfied with the carnage, he then swerved back onto the street.

It wasn’t long before his momentum ceased; he struck a school bus at an intersection and could drive no more. This prompted his premature exit from the truck, which had become a bruised and battered scrap with its front-end folded in. He was forced to flee on foot, which he swiftly did—albeit aimlessly—like a man ready for martyrdom. Seemingly unscathed, he stepped from the vehicle and began to brandish his gun.

Because of the commotion, the first wave of police was quick to the scene. Saipov was surrounded, but he hadn’t yet surrendered. He continued walking defiantly in the street, all while the background crescendo of sirens built in his pursuit. It’s conceivable he didn’t expect to live. What with a toy gun, at first glance frightening, but at second lacking lethality, it’s quite possible his gimmick was merely a goad. He might’ve been counting on his conviction and execution right then and there. In some way, the plan worked. An NYPD officer shot him in the abdomen. The wound was non-fatal, but Saipov’s terror came finally to its end. He was promptly taken from the scene, where he was to be hospitalized, stabilized, and in the following day, arraigned before a court.

In hindsight, the bus was a lucky encumbrance. Had it not been there, the day might’ve ended much worse. Saipov’s plan was to continue his Jihad joy-ride toward the Brooklyn Bridge. There, he planned a second-act attack reminiscent of those carried out on London Bridge and Westminster Bridge this past spring. His compatriots across the Atlantic were responsible for the deaths of thirteen. Surely, Saipov’s goal was to match if not surpass their toll.

The hand-written notes from his car read “The Islamic State will endure forever” and the odious words from his gut bellowed “Allahu Akbar”. From the gurney he showed no contrition, and whilst being triaged and treated, he showed no remorse. To the judge he stated he “felt good about what he had done”, and while still in the hospital, he requested to hang the ISIS-flag in his room. Apparently, he no longer feared being noticed. On the contrary, he was eager to embrace his nascent notoriety.

For now, Saipov—this murderous motorist—awaits his trial in New York. Some would rather see him detained at Guantanamo Bay. I’m tempted to add my name to that list. Here and across the Western world, these acts of terror are a pernicious plague. There’s no immunity, and for those carrying them out, there shouldn’t be clemency. Never should we become habituated to these heinous acts. These religious recidivists, otherwise known as Islamic fundamentalists, have no role to play in society, except for their being reformed or expunged. Saipov has tied his noose to the latter. Hopefully, he is the last one.

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