Man mows down eight in Manhattan

Police stand guard near the scene after a motorist drove onto a busy bicycle path near the World Trade Center memorial in New York on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: AP

A terror attack in lower Manhattan in New York City on Tuesday claimed eight lives and triggered a fresh clamour, led by President Donald Trump, to restrict immigration to the U.S. At least 11, including two children, were injured.

Not far from the site of the 9/11 terrorist strikes in which air planes were used as missiles, Tuesday’s attacker used a pick-up truck to mow down people on a busy bicycle path. A note found by investigators at the site said it was inspired by the Islamic State, and the suspect shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ as he emerged out of the mangled truck, brandishing a pellet gun and a paint-ball gun, according to eyewitness accounts. He was shot in the abdomen by the police, but could survive after surgery on Tuesday evening, according to official accounts.

It was the 15th such incident in Western cities since 2014, when the IS urged followers to use vehicles and other easily available objects as weapons.

The suspect has been identified as Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, 29, who migrated to the U.S. in 2010 from Uzbekistan. He worked as an Uber driver and lived in Paterson, New Jersey. Five of the eight killed were friends from Argentina celebrating their high school reunion in New York City. An unnamed Belgian woman is the sixth victim, while two have not been identified yet.

Trump calls for ‘extreme vetting’

After initial expressions of grief and condemnation, Tuesday’s incident led to calls for tougher security measures from several quarters. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted a comment by former intelligence officer Anthony Shaffer to attack New York Senator Chuck Schumer’s support for the ‘diversity visa lottery programme’ that allegedly allowed the attacker, Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, to enter the U.S.

“Senator Chuck Schumer helping to import Europe’s problems” said Mr. Shaffer. “We will stop this craziness!” the President posted.

Criticises Democrats

“The terrorist came into our country through what is called the ‘Diversity Visa Lottery Program,’ a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit-based,” the President said in another post. “We are fighting hard for merit-based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems. We must get MUCH tougher (and smarter)… I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!” he said in multiple posts.

However, New York’s Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio warned against stereotyping of people based on their ethnicity. “The last thing we should do is start casting aspersions on whole races of people or whole religions or whole nations.... That only makes the situation worse,” he said.

He added: “Anyone who wants to come into this country should be very thoroughly vetted as an individual... But the minute you start generalising it, especially to a whole religion, then unfortunately we’re sending the exact negative message that a lot of our enemies want and the terrorist wants to affirm — that this nation is somehow anti-Muslim. We’ve got to do the exact opposite. We’ve got to show we respect all people in America. That’s about as American of a value as there is.” Terror attacks using vehicles in Spain, U.K., Germany, and France, have killed 142 people since 2014 but it has happened in the U.S. too. In August, a white nationalist had driven his car into a crowd, killing a woman during a supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Tillerson’s comments

Later on Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the U.S. and its allies are still in a global fight to eliminate terrorism.

Mr. Tillerson spoke as he welcomed Belgium’s Foreign Minister Didier Reynders to the State Department, and officials confirmed that a Belgian woman was among those killed in the assault.

“Once again we’ve seen the evil face of terror in our own borders, but this is a face that knows no borders,” he told reporters.

Mr. Tillerson also pledged “complete solidarity” with Argentina, which lost five citizens.

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 3:55:26 PM |

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