Long Before the New York Attack, FBI Agents Were Targeting Uzbek Immigrants

 | Trevor Aaronson 11/02/2017 9:43 AM MDT

Sayfullo Saipov’s Halloween attack in New York City was a realization of a growing concern among U.S. counterterrorism officials.

Years before the 29-year-old immigrant from Uzbekistan plowed a rented Home Depot pickup truck through a bike lane in Lower Manhattan, killing eight people in an apparent ISIS-inspired attack, the FBI had begun to target Uzbek immigrants in the United States with digital surveillance, as well as undercover informants.

Those domestic investigations, spurred in part by intelligence reports that showed Uzbek fighters joining the Islamic State in Syria and elsewhere, suggested there was a small, tight-knit community of Uzbeks in the U.S. who were drawn to violent extremism. But although this week’s attack has led President Donald Trump to call for additional immigration restrictions, the history of terror attacks in the United States shows it’s hard to generalize based on nationality.

Federal prosecutors charged Saipov with terrorism-related offenses today. The FBI is searching for information about a second Uzbek man, Mukhammadzoir Kadirov, possibly in connection with the attack.

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