ISIS officially claimed credit late on November 2 for the October 31 attack in Manhattan, in which Sayfullo Saipov drove a rental truck down a busy bicycle path, killing eight people. CEP has translated from Arabic and analyzed ISIS’s announcement, which is unique in a number of ways.
ISIS’s designation of Sayfullo Saipov as a “solder of the Caliphate” is unique in that ISIS normally does not claim credit for attacks when operatives are captured alive (as is the case with Sayfullo Saipov).
This claim of responsibility is different in both how it was issued and the language used. In most international terrorist attacks, ISIS’s Amaq news agency issues the initial claim of responsibility (translated into multiple languages), and then its weekly newsletter al-Naba follows up with more details later. This time the claim was issued exclusively in al-Naba late on Thursday, November 2. Traditionally, Amaq and al-Naba claims for responsibility include language suggesting that a “source close to Amaq” or a “source close to the Islamic State” relayed attack details to the group’s media officials. However, the al-Naba story on the New York attack relies exclusively on outside media reporting of the attacks.
Thus far, ISIS has not given Saipov a kunya (a nickname given to an ISIS operative), something they did for Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock. In the Las Vegas attack, ISIS may have given Paddock a kunya to push back against media and public skepticism about ISIS’s claim of responsibility. Given media reports of Saipov’s letter of allegiance to ISIS, the group likely does not feel the same pressure to give Saipov a kunya or describe his background (as they did with Paddock’s conversion story).
The wording of the al-Naba claim suggests that ISIS is alleging that the attack was inspirational and not directed by operatives within ISIS’s external operations wing. This conclusion is based upon: (1) the absence of any Amaq footage of the attack or Saipov pledging bay’ah to Baghdadi before the attack; (2) the wording of al-Naba’s claim suggesting that the group learned of the attack from the media and not a “source close to Amaq Agency” or a “source close to the Islamic State;” and (3) the al-Naba claim is scarce on details about the plot and omits important details like the bag of knives that Saipov carried in his truck.
Translation of al-Naba Claim of Responsibility
Attack by One of the Soldiers of the Caliphate in Downtown Manhattan Results in the Killing and Wounding of More Than 20 Crusaders
One of the soldiers of the Islamic State in America on Tuesday attacked a number of the Crusaders on one of the city of New York’s streets, near the memorial commemorating the decimation (the raid of September 11th), which resulted in the killing and injuring of more than 20 Crusaders, praise be to Allah.
Media reported that the mujahid brother rammed a number of Crusaders with a small truck in the Manhattan area, which resulted in the killing of 8 and the wounding of 12, praise be to Allah. Another media source revealed that among the 8 killed were 5 Argentinians and Belgians.
The operation has stirred up–thanks to Allah–fear inside Crusader America, which led them to increase security measures and strengthen measures against immigrants inside America. This is among the most prominent of the attacks which targeted the Crusaders in America, which was most recently the attack that the mujahid brother Abu Abdul Barr al-Amriki–May Allah Accept him–committed on a large gathering of the Crusaders in Las Vegas, which brought down hundreds killed and wounded–praise be to Allah. This attack came in the context of the soldiers of the Caliphate in America and Europe responding to calls to target nationals of the Crusader states participating in the coalition against the Islamic State. Praise be to Allah.