Sayfullo Saipov was interviewed in 2015 by Department of Homeland Security agents about possible connections to suspected terrorists, ABC News reported Wednesday, citing law enforcement officials. Saipov is accused of perpetrating the terror attack in New York City on Tuesday that left eight dead and 11 injured after a driver drove a rented truck down a Manhattan bike path.
Federal officials said that Saipov's name and address were listed as a "point of contact" for two men who came from "threat countries" and whose names were entered in the Counterterrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit database. One of the two men has since disappeared, and federal agents consider him a "suspected terrorist," ABC News reported.
Saipov came to the United States from Uzbekistan in 2010 and had known addresses in Florida and Ohio. A fellow Uzbek immigrant who met Saipov in Fort Myers, Florida, said of him: "He was a very good person when I knew him ... He liked the U.S. He seemed very lucky, and all the time he was happy and talking like everything is okay. He did not seem like a terrorist, but I did not know him from the inside."
Saipov was able to pass an Uber background check and drove for the company while living in New Jersey. Law enforcement officials ultimately did not have enough evidence to open a case against him when he was interviewed two years ago. Investigators believe that Saipov acted alone and was not part of a terrorist cell or a larger plot.