NEW YORK — The man the FBI said at one point it was seeking as a person of interest in the New York truck attack has condemned the plot and says it was “not from our religion.”
The man, Mukhammadzoir Kadirov, has not been detained or arrested. On Wednesday, the FBI released a poster saying it was looking for Kadirov, only to announce less than 90 minutes later that it had found him.
A law enforcement official said Kadirov was a friend of suspect Sayfullo Saipov‘s and may not have any role in the case. Saipov didn’t have many friends, said the official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
On Thursday, Kadirov released a statement to The Associated Press through a source in touch with his family. It reads: “It is so sad and unbelievable. This not from our religion. It is not acceptable. We as Muslims completely reject this kind of actions. No human being who has a heart can do this.”
Kadirov also quoted a passage from the Quran in his statement.
The person in touch with Kadirov’s family says the two men knew each other only from their days as fellow drivers for the ride-sharing app Uber and were not close friends. The person — who spoke to The AP on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation and its sensitive nature — said Kadirov called a community advocacy organization when he realized he knew Saipov. The person said that the group encouraged Kadirov, who lives in New Jersey, to cooperate with authorities, and that the man has done so.
Wednesday, federal prosecutors filed terrorism charges against Saipov, who is accused of killing eight people and injuring a dozen others when he drove a rental truck into the crowd on a bike path in lower Manhattan Tuesday.
Saipov, who was shot and wounded by police, was taken to court the New York federal courthouse Wednesday in a wheelchair with his hands cuffed and feet shackled.
Saipov is facing two terrorism counts: a charge of providing material support to a terrorist organization (ISIS) and a charge of violence and destruction of a motor vehicle with willful disregard for human life, which could carry the death penalty.
Prosecutors said Saipov was “consumed by hate and a twisted ideology” when he carried out the attack.
The federal affidavit alleges that Saipov, who came to the U.S. from Uzbekistan in 2010, had been planning the attack for two months and that he did a test run on October 22.
Several pages of handwritten notes were found near the truck, including Arabic writing that said “No God but God and Muhammed is his Prophet” and “Islamic Supplication. It will endure,” a phrase prosecutors said is “commonly used to refer to ISIS.”
Prosecutors said they found two cellphones at the scene, with one of the phones containing 90 videos of ISIS propaganda and thousands of images associated with ISIS. Saipov told investigators from his hospital bed that he was inspired to carry out the attack after watching ISIS-related videos on his cellphone, according to the affidavit.
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