New York truck attack sparks political finger-pointing

The truck allegedly used by Sayfullo Saipov to hit pedestrians in New York City on Tuesday. He was shot in the abdomen by police but survived and was taken into custody. He left notes in Arabic saying that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria would en
The truck allegedly used by Sayfullo Saipov to hit pedestrians in New York City on Tuesday. He was shot in the abdomen by police but survived and was taken into custody. He left notes in Arabic saying that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria would endure forever, officials said.PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON • The worst terror attack on New York City since the Sept 11, 2001 strikes has sparked a bout of political finger-pointing.

Hours after an Uzbek immigrant drove his rented pickup truck up a busy bicycle path, leaving eight people dead and nine others injured, President Donald Trump blamed Democrats for the immigration policy that allowed the man to enter the United States.

"The terrorist came into our country through what is called the Diversity Visa Lottery Program," Mr Trump tweeted.

"We are fighting hard for Merit-Based Immigration. No more Democrat Lottery Systems. We have to get much tougher (and smarter)."

This drew a stinging rebuke from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who said: "The President's tweets were not helpful... I think they tended to point fingers and politicise the situation... You play into the hands of terrorists to the extent that you disrupt and divide and frighten people."

He added: "The last thing it's about is politics. Period."

The suspect, 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov, was shot in the abdomen by police but survived and was taken into custody.

Saipov, a resident of New Jersey who arrived in the US in 2010, left notes in Arabic saying that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) would endure forever, officials said.

ISIS has told its followers to use vehicles as weapons.

Mr Cuomo called Saipov a coward. "He's a depraved coward is what he is, and he was associated with ISIS, and he was radicalised domestically, " he told CNN.

Despite the attack, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed that the New York Marathon will go on as planned on Sunday.

However, security will be vastly stepped up for the event that involves 50,000 runners.

Meanwhile, the world community, including China and Singapore, has strongly condemned the attack.

Nirmal Ghosh

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2017, with the headline 'New York truck attack sparks political finger-pointing'. Print Edition | Subscribe