Federal authorities apparently had New York City attacker Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov on their radar two years prior to his attack on Tuesday.
(For updates on Tuesday’s New York attack, click here)
Saipov reportedly entered the U.S. through the Diversity Visa Program lottery in 2010, making him a permanent resident.
According to ABC News, Saipov was a “point of contact” for two different men on the Department of Homeland Security’s Counterterrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit list. Both men connected to Saipov came from countries with high threat levels.
One of them is currently at large and being sought by authorities as a “suspected terrorist.”
Federal agents reportedly interviewed Saipov in 2015 due to his connections, but couldn’t find anything on him, and let him go.
ABC News reported that Saipov has claimed he carried out his attack in the name of ISIS, yet the terrorist organization has not stepped forward to confirm this, nor have any of his private social media dealings given rise to the suspicion that he was part of a cell.
Regardless, authorities say Saipov had been planning the attack for a number of weeks and followed ISIS’s online instructions to the letter.
NEW: NYC terror suspect had been planning attack for "a number of weeks," followed ISIS instructions from social media "almost exactly." pic.twitter.com/OpfhrTeB0J
— ABC News (@ABC) November 1, 2017
The FBI has been interviewing Saipov who is currently in intensive care after he was shot in the stomach by a responding police officer. Authorities say Saipov is “proud” of his attack.