Nearly 60 vulnerable Manhattan intersections are being outfitted with concrete barricades intended to stop vehicles, following the attack Tuesday in which a suspected terrorist mowed down pedestrians and bicyclists by driving a truck down a waterfront bike path, the mayor’s office said Thursday.
Giant concrete blocks and jersey barriers — rectangular barricades installed by crane — began being installed at intersections on Thursday.
“Vehicles won’t be able to access places they aren’t supposed to,” said Ben Sarle, a mayoral spokesman. “They’re extremely heavy and effective.”
Crews wrapped up their day’s work shortly after 5 p.m. and were expected to continue the installation Friday, starting near West 34th Street.
Officials say Sayfullo Saipov, 29, drove the rented pickup truck on a mile-long trail of destruction, killing eight people and injuring at least a dozen others.
Saipov picked Halloween for his attack to “kill as many people as he could,” according to a criminal complaint released Wednesday.
Sources said Saipov’s wife has been questioned by federal agents and is not believed to have been involved in her husband’s alleged terror plot.
A top police official said Thursday that capturing Saipov alive could help authorities better understand how ordinary people become radicalized.
“When you capture a live terrorist you have the ability to question that person and you’re able to glean a lot,” said John Miller, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism.
Investigators can learn whether the person acted alone or was part of a network, or whether the person communicated with a terror network online, Miller said on “CBS This Morning.”
“But you can also go deeper into those questions about what brought you to this point,” Miller said. “And there are former defendants in cases like this where we’ve learned a lot about the arc of their radicalization,” he said.
Thursday evening, more than 1,000 people gathered in lower Manhattan, holding candles and quietly walking down the riverside pedestrian and bike path that was the site of the attack.
They marched from Houston Street down to North Moore Street, following the path of the truck and ending just a few blocks north of where the rented Home Depot vehicle crashed into a school bus. There they held a moment of silence.
Saipov was being held without bail after he was arraigned Wednesday on two federal charges: provision of material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, and violence and destruction of a motor vehicle.
He is a legal permanent resident of the United States who came from Uzbekistan in 2010, officials said.
Prosecutors and police said he planned his attack meticulously for a year, making test runs for his deadly rampage.
He admitted to authorities he was “inspired to commit the act by the ISIS videos that he watched,” said Joon H. Kim, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Investigators found notes, handwritten in Arabic, that Saipov left behind and “the gist” of them was that “the Islamic State would endure forever,” Miller said Wednesday.
Five of the people killed were natives of Argentina who were part of a group of friends in New York to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation.
A Belgian woman also was killed, along with Darren Drake, 33, of New Jersey, and Nicholas Cleves, 23, of Manhattan.
On Wednesday afternoon, law enforcement officials issued and then canceled an alert for a “person of interest.”
Sources said Thursday that Mukhammadzoir Kadirov was an acquaintance of Saipov’s who was wanted for questioning. Kadirov was quickly located, questioned, not charged, and let go, the sources said.
On Thursday, Kadirov issued a statement denouncing the attack. “It is so sad and unbelievable,” the statement read in part. “It is not acceptable. We as Muslims completely reject this kind of actions. No human being who has a heart can do this.”
In Paterson, where Saipov lives, The Islamic Center of Passaic County received eight phone threats Wednesday and Thursday, its president said. The callers said things like, “I will get you,” “I will burn your center down,” and “get out of the country,” Islamic Center CEO and president Omar Awad said in an interview.
The center contacted authorities and Paterson police provided officers around the campus and the center’s own security is there for prayer services, he said.
With William Murphy, Robert E. Kessler and Alison Fox