The charges filed against Sayfullo Saipov are federal, which means the government can override New York state’s ban on capital punishment.
Sayfullo Saipov appeared in court in a wheelchair 24 hours after mowing down cyclists and pedestrians on a bike lane in Lower Manhattan on October 31.
Six people died at the scene and two more in hospital. Twelve people were injured, four of whom remain in critical condition.
Prosecutors say Sayfullo Saipov spoke freely to them, waiving his right to avoid self-incrimination while in custody.
According to federal court papers, the suspect said the attack was planned two months ago, and he carried out a trial run with a rental truck last month. He intentionally chose Halloween because he believed there would be more people in the streets. Sayfullo Saipov originally planned to target the Brooklyn Bridge as well and he wanted to display ISIS flags on the truck, but decided not to draw attention to himself.
Sayfullo Saipov was inspired by 90 propaganda videos found on his phone – in particular, one in which ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi asks what Muslims are doing to avenge deaths in Iraq.
He is also accused of providing material support and resources to ISIS.
Sayfullo Saipov, the man accused of killing 8 people in Lower Manhattan by driving a truck down a cycle lane, was inspired by ISIS, police say.
NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller said that notes in Arabic claiming the attack on behalf of ISIS were recovered from the scene of the attack in New York.
Sayfullo Saipov, a 29-year-old Uzbek immigrant, was shot and injured by police.
The suspect is in hospital and under arrest.
John Miller said: “Based on the investigation overnight, it appears that Mr. Saipov had been planning this for a number of weeks.
“He did this in the name of ISIS, and along with the other items recovered at the scene was some notes that further indicate that.
“He appears to have followed almost exactly to a ‘T’ the instructions that ISIS has put out in its social media channels before, with instructions to their followers on how to carry out such an attack.”
One of the notes said “the Islamic State would endure forever”, the deputy commissioner added.
One witness, identified as “Eugene,” told ABC Channel 7 that he saw a white pick-up truck driving fast down the cycle path alongside the West Side Highway, near Stuyvesant High School, at full speed and hitting a number of people.
The witness also reported hearing about nine or 10 shots.
In a series of tweets, the NYPD described what happened:
“Earlier a vehicle entered the West St. pedestrian/bike path a few blocks north of Chambers St.
“The vehicle struck multiple people on the path. There are several fatalities and numerous people injured.
“The vehicle continued south striking another vehicle. The suspect exited the vehicle displaying imitation firearms & was shot by NYPD
“The suspect is in custody. This is preliminary, more information to follow.”