Manhattan Terror Attack and Travel Risks
1 Nov 2017
Eight fatalities have been confirmed after terror attack in New York City on 31 October 2017. The attack unfolded around 1500 local time, when a rented pick-up truck was driven down a busy bicycle path near the World Trade Centre in Manhattan, New York. The truck targeted cyclists travelling along the Hudson River bike path along West Street, Lower Manhattan when it crashed into a school bus on Chambers Street; two adults and two children on board were injured. The perpetrator, confirmed by authorities as the 29-year-old Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, then proceeded to get out the truck, displayed fake firearms (a paintball and pellet gun) and shouted “Allah Akbar” (“God is greatest”).
- On 31 October 2017, a terror attack occurred near the World Trade Centre in Manhattan, New York.
- The attack involved a pickup truck targeting a busy cycle path before crashing into a school bus.
- Eight people have been confirmed dead in this attack.
- The attacker has been arrested and is believed to have been an agent of, or been inspired by, Islamic State.
Terrorism: Eight fatalities have been confirmed after terror attack in New York City on 31 October 2017. The attack unfolded around 1500 local time, when a rented pick-up truck was driven down a busy bicycle path near the World Trade Centre in Manhattan, New York. The truck targeted cyclists travelling along the Hudson River bike path along West Street, Lower Manhattan when it crashed into a school bus on Chambers Street; two adults and two children on board were injured. The perpetrator, confirmed by authorities as the 29-year-old Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, then proceeded to get out the truck, displayed fake firearms (a paintball and pellet gun) and shouted “Allah Akbar” (“God is greatest”).
Nearby schools were put on to lockdown as a precaution as students began to leave early to begin Halloween celebrations. The attacker was subsequently shot in the abdomen by a New York police officer. He is now in hospital and remains in a stable condition under arrest. Medical professionals state that he has continued to pledge his allegiance to Islamic State from within hospital.
Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov was born in the central Asian nation of Uzbekistan and came to live in the United States in 2010 where he is believed to have been radicalised domestically. Sayfullo is reported to have lived in Tampa, Florida and Paterson, New Jersey for the past six months where he was employed as a driver for the car-share service Uber. He was known to the authorities for multiple traffic crimes and had received fines in the past year as a result of traffic offences. Confirmed reports have stated that a note in Arabic from Sayfullo was found within the vehicle, stating that ‘Islamic State would endure forever’. A picture of the Islamic State flag and multiple knives were also discovered within the truck. Although the investigation into the attack has revealed that it was in planning for at least two weeks, it is not believed to be part of a wider plot. The planning of the attack is believed to have come from online instructions produced by Islamic State on one of their social media channels.
Of the eight dead and fifteen injured, five were from a group of Argentinian friends and one from a Belgian family visiting the city. Police in New York have begun to deploy extra officers around the city as an act of caution. Extra police officers and K-9 units will be deployed along with rooftop snipers. Officials have reported that the crime scene will remain closed off to the public for several hours, but they call on New Yorkers to continue business as usual.
solace global comment
This act of terror sees the deadliest attack on the city of New York since the 11 September attacks in 2001. The site of the 31 October attack is in the vicinity of the attacks on the World Trade Centre and highlights the ongoing threat from Islamic extremists. The latest attack bears similarity to recent vehicle attacks in Westminster and London Bridge in the United Kingdom, as well as attacks in France, Berlin, and Barcelona over the past few years. A number of these attacks around the world were often found to be inspired by Islamic State but not directed by the group; in some cases, they have not made direct contact with members of Islamic State. These attacks follow a trend of low technology weapon attacks being conducted by lone wolf terrorists across the West. Attacks of this nature are highly difficult to predict, detect, and counter. The perceived preference for this style of attack is due to the easy availability of equipment compared to firearms and explosives. Instructions on how to carry out attacks are widely available on social media sites, increasing the ease at which these attacks can be conducted. Many cities in Europe have employed enhanced safety measures across popular tourist areas. Hostile Vehicle Mitigation (HVM) products such as heavy-duty barriers are being installed across bridges and roads that are potential risks for vehicle attacks. Similar measures are in place in certain locations across the United States, these may be stepped up in light of this attack.
Uzbek authorities and terrorism experts have stated that jihadism has been a significant problem in Uzbekistan over recent years. The poor, former-Soviet state has become a source of recruits for the Islamic state and other militant groups. At least two major jihadi groups are currently operating within the country. One of the key terrorist groups in Uzbekistan is that of the Islamic Movement who are affiliated with Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. In April 2017, Stockholm, Sweden saw a similar vehicle attack killing five conducted by Uzbekistan lawyer Rakhmat Akilov. Another attack in April 2017, the bombing of the metro in St Petersburg, Russia, was conducted by an ethnic Uzbek, born in Kyrgyzstan.
In the wake of the New York City attacks, President Donald Trump has announced that the ‘Extreme Vetting’ programme will be stepped up. This programme has previously seen an introduction of a ban on arrivals to the United States from a number of mainly Muslim countries. There is the potential for more countries to be added to President Trump’s list, including Uzbekistan, which was not included initially. The programme was criticised in a number of circles and many believe it has the potential to further increases racial and religious tensions across the USA. President Trump’s call for greater security measures to be deployed, is likely to result in disruptions and delays at borders and key transport hubs across the United States.
New York City officials have reported that the 05 November New York Marathon, which begins on Staten Island and runs north through Brooklyn and Queens, entering Manhattan via the Queensboro Bridge and East 59th Street, before heading to the Bronx the back into Manhattan, concluding in Central Park, will go ahead as planned. However, those in the United States’ largest city should note that a substantially enhanced level of physical security will be deployed.
Travellers should be aware there is an increased security presence across the United States, especially in New York City. President Trump has already stated that the Department of Homeland Security will increase its security precautions. Increased border controls have already been noted as well as further security patrols. Police are likely to be at a heightened level of alertness. Therefore, if travelling within country, it is vital that travellers adhere fully to the instructions of security forces; opposition may result in a forceful response.
If President Trump publishes an updated travel ban on certain locations, it is likely to lead to protests, especially in cities on the United Statesâ east and west coasts. The ban itself, and protests surrounding it, previously caused travel chaos at the United Statesâ international airports; there is the potential for a repeat of such scenes. If flying into or out of the United States, it is important to allow for extra time at the airport. Travellers should also avoid any protests, while they generally remain peaceful in the United States, they have the potential to turn violent.
If caught in a terror situation, travellers are advised to RUN â HIDE â TELL â FIGHT. RUN â If in a location where gunfire or explosions are heard, leave the area or building by any safe and available exit immediately. HIDE â If unable to run away, find suitable cover or barricade yourself in a room. Remember to silence your phone and turn vibrate off. TELL â Inform emergency services or alert someone who is able to do it for you. Once police arrive, comply with their instructions and do not make any sudden movements.Â FIGHT â As a last resort, if confronted with a gunman, it is recommended to fight back by using the element of surprise by shouting, screaming and running fast at the attacker. If sheltered with others, convince them to do the same and rush the attacker all at once. Ensure the person entering the shelter is the attacker and not law enforcement.
Solace Global would not advise clients on the need to employ enhanced security measures when visiting New York City or the United States. Indeed, by some estimates, New York City is safest large city in the United States. Solace Global would advise clients to employ a travel tracking system with an integrated intelligence feed, to allow employers to effectively execute duty of care, and permit the traveller to remain up to date with potential threats.
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