The F.B.I. is investigating a vehicle-ramming incident Tuesday in New York City as a terrorist attack. At least eight people were killed and nine more were injured when a man drove through Lower Manhattan on a cyclist/pedestrian path with a rental truck.
Police say the suspect exited the vehicle and displayed a paintball gun and a pellet gun before he was shot by an officer and taken into custody.
“Let me be clear, this was an act of terror and an particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians,” NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the briefing.
The incident took place at 3:05 p.m. local time and the truck drove southbound on the West Side Highway at Houston Street, striking bicyclists and pedestrians on the way to Chambers Street, where it collided with a school bus nearby Stuyvesant High School. Police said two adults and two children were injured as a result of the crash.
Witnesses described the chaotic scene just blocks from the World Trade Center and said they heard the suspect was yelling “Allahu Akbar” as officers responded.
“He did make a statement when he exited the vehicle,” New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill said. “If you look at the M.O. of the attack, that’s consistent with what’s been going on. That, along with the statement have enabled us to label this a terrorist attack.”
Police didn’t identify the 29-year-old male yet, but said he’s in the hospital and being questioned by authorities.
“This is a tragedy of the greatest magnitude,” New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill said at a press briefing.
No terror group has claimed the attack yet, but vehicle-ramming attacks are a staple of ISIS.
In an ISIS magazine article from November 2016, ISIS suggested to jihadists how to carry out a successful attack as a lone wolf operative. In the article, ISIS said that a lone wolf should use a vehicle to plow into a crowd and to carry a secondary weapon.
Since then, ISIS has used vehicles for deadly attacks across Europe and the United States. Islamist vehicle ramming has also inspired non-Islamists in England and the United States, with a white supremacist using his vehicle to mow down protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia in August.
Earlier this month, a French terrorist group associated with ISIS encouraged its followers to carry out attacks on October 31.
Also, a photo taken in August obtained by SITE Intel Group shows an ISIS support just blocks away from where Tuesday’s attack took place.