“’This is the kind of truck you use for construction, but he wasn’t doing construction,’ said Carlos Batista, 23, who noticed that one of the trucks was parked outside a vacant building nearby for nearly a week. ‘Why would you spend the money to rent this kind of truck and just leave it outside if you’re not using it? … Now I think he was practicing.’”
“If you see something, say something,” right? So why didn’t Carlos Batista report this suspicious activity to police? The Los Angeles Times reporter Barbara Demick doesn’t appear to have asked him that. Could it be because Bastista was afraid that to alert authorities to something like that would be “Islamophobic”? There have been many other instances of people fearing to report suspicious activity by Muslims for fear of being labeled “Islamophobic.” I discuss this self-defeating but all-pervasive phenomenon in my new book Confessions of an Islamophobe. Have you preordered your copy yet? Get it here.
“New York attack suspect’s family was ‘very mysterious,’ neighbor says,” by Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, November 1, 2017:
Even in a neighborhood packed with immigrants, all with their own customs, languages, foods and idiosyncrasies, there was something about Sayfullo Saipov and his family that seemed not quite right.
With the benefit of hindsight, neighbors now believe that the 29-year-old Uzbek immigrant was plotting an attack long before he allegedly plowed his rented truck down a bicycle path in Lower Manhattan, killing eight people.
Three weeks before Tuesday’s attack, a neighbor had noticed that Saipov frequently rented trucks like the one used in the attack.
“This is the kind of truck you use for construction, but he wasn’t doing construction,’’ said Carlos Batista, 23, who noticed that one of the trucks was parked outside a vacant building nearby for nearly a week. “Why would you spend the money to rent this kind of truck and just leave it outside if you’re not using it? … Now I think he was practicing.”
Others were uncomfortable with Saipov’s wife, who wore a niqab, a Muslim garment that reveals only the eyes. Other women among the many Muslims in the neighborhood wear simple head scarves, neighbors say.
“It was unusual around here. You could only see the eyes’’ said Dolores Stanton Vargas, 59, who lives across the street from the neighborhood mosque.
Saipov and his wife, Nozima Odilova, 23, moved about 15 months ago into a scruffy low-rise red-brick building behind the mosque. They had two girls, one now 6 and another 4, and a baby boy who was born about six months ago.
“The wife hardly went out. They were very mysterious,’’ said Altana Dimitrovska, 63, a Macedonian immigrant who lives in the same building. She said that the wife would watch through the curtains of her window as the girls played in the front courtyard, and would occasionally push the baby around the courtyard in a stroller. Saipov was the one who took the older girl to school.
“The girls didn’t have friends. There were no parties,’’ Dimitrovska said.
Language and cultural impediments kept the young family from befriending many people in the neighborhood. But Saipov did have two friends, men who looked similar to him with long beards, who were frequent visitors along with their wives, neighbors said. The wives dressed similarly to Saipov’s wife — wearing the niqab — which made them stick out in the neighborhood.
Over the summer, Batista got into a quarrel with the two visiting men who yelled at him for riding a noisy dirt bike in the evening. Saipov, he said, came out of the apartment and patched up the argument.
“Actually, he was kind of the peacemaker,’’ said Batista. “He seemed pretty nice. After that, he would wave at me when he drove by.’’
The Saipov family was last seen at the apartment complex over the weekend, neighbors said — suggesting that Saipov might have moved his wife to another location in anticipation of the attack. But he rented the pickup truck nearby at a Home Depot in Passaic, N.J.
Saipov immigrated to the United States in 2010 after winning what is called a diversity visa in a lottery designed to bring in immigrants from underrepresented nations. He lived initially with an Uzbek family in Cincinnati who were acquainted with his father. Although he spoke little English, he quickly started working as a truck driver and trying to start his own business. The year after his arrival, he registered his first company, Sayf Motors, at their address in Symmes Township, Ohio, signing the documents of incorporation with the Ohio secretary of state in tidy cursive handwriting….