[HOT] – Finding a Rootless Life in U.S., Sayfullo Saipov Turned to Radicalism

Sayfullo Saipov leaves home in 2010, just after celebrating his 22nd birthday and won the lottery to come to America. He never looked back, never saw his hometown of Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, and never stopped moving.

Mr. Saipov drove a semitrailer for a living, traveling tens of thousands of miles across the country from Denver to Detroit, Canton, Massachusetts to Salt Lake City. He moved his wife and children from one state to another, always looking for something – friends in Ohio, a new life in Florida, a family in New Jersey, where he started driving for Uber six months ago. Nothing has ever been stuck.

And Tuesday, Mr. Saipov, now 29 years old, who had spent so many hours alone on the road, that an old friend had "monsters in the interior ", decided to drive a last truck, this one a Home Depot rental, on a crowded bike path on the West Side of Manhattan, authorities said. Eight people died.

As with any attack like this, there is no reason for Mr. Saipov to kill innocent people, especially tourists in a storm, 56 degrees with blue skies. He had come to the United States as a moderate Muslim with dreams of doing so. He married another Uzbek immigrant and fathered three children. But life did not work as Mr Saipov had wanted. He could not find a job in the hotel, where he had worked at home. He developed a violent temper. He lost jobs. An imam in Florida feared that Mr. Saipov would increasingly interpret Islam.

"I told him," Hey, you're so emotional. Read more books. First learn your religion, "said Abdul, the imam, who did not want his last name to be used because he feared reprisals. "He did not learn the religion properly.It is the main disease of the Muslim community."

In Tashkent, Mr. Saipov grew up in a wealthy family who practiced Falun Gong. traditional Islam and never rallied to extremism, said the Uzbek government Wednesday.His neighbors said that Mr. Saipov never raised suspicions and "is always behaved in a measured and friendly manner, "according to the government statement.From 1945 to 2009, Mr. Saipov studied at the Financial Institute of Tashkent, one of the largest universities of Uzbekistan, a former Soviet republic of Central Asia that was at the time run by the police by Islam Karimov, an autocrat called one of the most oppressive leaders in the world.After the university, Mr. Saipov worked as an accountant for the hotel Sayokhat in Tashkent, described as having dated rooms and serviced indifferent customer ice.

Then he won the green card lottery, which was one of the lucky ones who could escape the repression of the home and legally immigrate to America. In March 2010, Mr. Saipov went to the Kennedy International Airport in New York, his first visit to the United States, and went to a friend's house in the suburbs of his hometown. northeast of Cincinnati. He skipped the mandate of his government to register with the consulate. There was no project going back.

Saipov wanted to get a job in the hotel business. But with little English and no links, he was not lucky to find work. The friend of his father, a trucker, asked him to move out and find his own place because he was not earning money. So Mr. Saipov found his first job: as a trucker. And by the end of 2011, he had found his own place, an apartment 200 miles away, in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, on a street called Americana Drive.

He was not exactly an extremist. Mr. Saipov liked fancy clothes, a vanity frowned upon in conservative Islamic circles. He cursed like he could not help him. He regularly appeared late for Friday prayers at the Islamic Society of Akron and Kent. He showed only the rudimentary knowledge of the Qur'an.

During the three years he lived in the area, he began to change, said Mirrakhmat Muminov, a truck driver and a local community activist. He became argumentative, even aggressive, and began to grow his beard. Mr. Muminov described him as someone "with monsters inside."

"I have always thought deep down in my soul that he would be jailed for beating someone or insulting someone," Mr. Muminov said. "He had a vulgar character."

Although his grandfather sometimes visited Uzbekistan, his parents never did, Mr. Muminov said. Mr. Saipov made his own family: In 2013, he married an almost six – year – old Uzbek immigrant, Nozima Odilova, who ended up in Ohio after landing in Las Vegas first. They started a family, first a girl, then a second. He told his friends that he was really hoping for a son.

While he was in Ohio, Mr. Saipov formed two companies as part of his trucker career. Sayf Motors, a play on its name, was launched only 14 months after it arrived in the country, and a more Midwestern-sounding company, Bright Auto. But Mr. Saipov has mainly led for others, companies like Abror Logistics of Paterson, NJ

Over the years, he has accumulated at least nine tickets, in Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Maryland. These tickets are the closest thing to snapshots of Mr. Saipov's life on the road.

He was in Iowa in December 2011, waiting 35 minutes along the Interstate 80 to give him a ticket and let him go to Salt Lake City. Again, he was in Iowa, in April 2014, stopped for over an hour to have a cracked windshield and for missing a reflective device while he was driving a cargo of cars from Denver to Detroit.

at the weigh station at the 415-mile marker on Interstate 80 in Nebraska. Mr. Saipov received a ticket for driving too long without required rest and for carrying a load just a little more than was allowed.

By the end of 2015, Mr. Saipov had moved to Tampa, Florida, chasing something. . His problems have deepened, Mr. Muminov said. He had trouble finding work. He ran out of money. He exploded with anger

"He had a character problem," said Abdul, the Imam.

He became more obsessed with the physical traps of Islam: the long beard, the high ankle pants. He never talked about violence, though.

In March of last year, he had found a new job, with IIK Transport out of Illinois. A representative of the company, who asked not to be identified because he did not want to be associated with a person accused of terrorism, described Mr. Saipov as "someone who was working in the 48 lower states "and who was" just an ordinary man ".

It was at that time that he had his greatest battle with the law, after a ticket became unpaid and turned into a warrant. He caught up with her at a weighing station in Missouri. He spent 40 minutes on October 20, 2016 at the St. Charles County Jail, where he posted a $ 200 bond with his credit card.

Over the years, he has made little impression with the exception of these notes. "Do not remember him," said Jim Klepper, a lawyer who portrayed him on a ticket in Pike County, Penn. "Nobody remembers him," said Lt. Michael McKee of the St. Charles County Correctional Service.

This spring, he told his friends that he wanted to get closer to the family of his wife, who lived in Brooklyn. and the family moved to Paterson. She was pregnant – this time with a son, born during the summer. Mr. Saipov started driving for Uber. However, he was not happy. He told his friends and acquaintances that he was planning to return to Uzbekistan. "It's boring here," he said. "There is nothing to do here."

But about a year ago, he began to prepare an attack, according to the authorities, and he finally started downloading videos from ISIS. Two months ago, he decided how he was going to do it, how he could inflict the maximum damage. It was obvious: a truck.

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