New York truck attack suspect passed background check

Posted at 6:50 PM, Nov 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-01 19:02:12-04

Uber says it's in contact with the FBI after it emerged that the suspect in the deadly truck attack in New York City was one of the company's drivers.

Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, originally from Uzbekistan, has been living in the U.S. since 2010, law enforcement sources told CNN. Uber said he started driving for the ride-hailing app in New Jersey just over six months ago.

The 29-year-old is accused of using a rented pickup truck to mow down cyclists on a busy bike path near the World Trade Center in Manhattan on Tuesday. He was shot and detained by police.



Uber said Saipov passed a background check in order to drive for the company and has now been banned from its platform. But his case may raise questions about Uber's background checks process.

Records show Saipov received multiple traffic citations in the past.

In 2015, he was charged in Platte, Missouri, with failure to equip a motor vehicle carrier with or maintain a required brake system. After he missed his court appearance in November 2016, the court entered a guilty plea on his behalf.

New Jersey rules for ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft require the companies to conduct criminal background checks, which are usually outsourced to specialist firms. Convictions for crimes like reckless driving automatically disqualify a driver.

It's unclear whether Uber ever rejects drivers because of a record of more minor offenses like Saipov's. Uber didn't respond late Tuesday to questions about Saipov's past citations.

Uber said it's reviewing Saipov's history at the company and hasn't so far identified any rider complaints about his safety as a driver.

"We are horrified by this senseless act of violence," the company said in a statement. "Our hearts are with the victims and their families. We have reached out to law enforcement to provide our full assistance."

It's not the first time one of the company's drivers has been linked to a high-profile crime.

A Missouri man was charged with murder last year over a killing spree he is accused of carrying out in between picking up and dropping off passengers in Kalamazoo County.

The Council on American-Islamc Relations in Florida said Saipov was never visible in the Muslim community in Tampa.  

“I certainly don’t want Tampa to be associated with such a horrific crime. That individual doesn’t represent anybody more than himself," CAIR Chief Executive Director Hassan Shibly said.
ABC Action News learned he attended a mosque in Ohio, but it appears he laid low, during his time here.

“That doesn’t surprise me that he wasn’t too well known because if he indeed was connected to ISIS the first thing that criminal terrorist organizations like ISIS do is they try to isolate the people they’re recruiting from the community and from the mosques," Shibly said.

Shibly said they started looking into this as soon as they learned of Saipov's ties to Tampa because they wanted to know what he was doing while he was here.

“It actually hurts me a lot because people are saying he used God’s name. How can you attack God’s creation? (And), shed innocent blood, while using God’s name," Shibly said.
Shibly said they are praying for the families of the victims and for the violence to end; he said he was worried about possible backlash.

“There is a concern that people will blame us for things that we’re just as disgusted by -that we have nothing to do with," Shibly said.