Terror suspect accused of killing 8 in NYC has ties to Cuyahoga Falls area


A damaged Home Depot truck remains on the scene Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, after the driver mowed down people on a riverfront bike path near the World Trade Center on Tuesday in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Rachel Duthie

Gripping the sides of the podium, Ihsan Ul Haque’s face was filled with sorrow as he looked out into a sea of cameras and community members.

“This facility has an open door policy; people can come and go as they please,” said Haque, a board member of the Islamic Society of Akron and Kent, a mosque in Cuyahoga Falls. “When we see someone who poses an issue, we alert the authorities. However, some people fly under the radar.”

Haque is referring to 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov, the suspect who is believed to be responsible for the deadly truck attack Tuesday in New York City. Saipov briefly lived in Cuyahoga Falls years before the attack.

The mosque held a press conference Wednesday evening to condemn the attack, addressing the need for safety for those in the center.

New York City police reports allege Saipov drove a rented Home Depot truck onto a bike path near the World Trade Center, killing eight people and injuring 11. He was later shot and detained afterward.

“My concern at this time is the Islamic community,” said Faheem Shaikh, the president of the center. “Many are quick to jump to conclusions. The physical obscurity of this place and the people in it — and people’s perceptions toward it — is what I fear.”

Saipov lived at the Water’s Edge Apartments on Americana Drive.

According to state records, he also holds active business licenses for Sayf Motors Inc. in Cincinnati and Bright Auto LLC, a one-man trucking company listed in Stow. He registered them in May 2011 and August 2013, respectively.

Steven Newman, 31, was a neighbor of Saipov’s and occasionally would greet him while he was walking his dog.

“He was not very robust or chatty,” Newman said. “You could tell he was a loner and kept to himself. I never saw him with a wife or kids.”

He describes the apartment complex as a quiet, working-class neighborhood with a diverse immigrant population.

“It’s just crazy, you know, because I had no flipping clue,” Newman said. “I had no idea that he could be a terrorist.”

Water’s Edge Apartments declined to comment.

Haque confirmed that Saipov worshipped at the center, but he was an individual that “wasn’t noticed,” as his behavior did not pose a cause for concern.

A marriage license shows Saipov married a woman named Nozima Odilova in 2013, when he was 25 and she was 19. They held their marriage at his apartment on Americana Drive with an officiant named Abdulloh.

His occupation is listed as “Truck Driver” on the license.

There are no police reports of him in Summit County.

Federal prosecutors brought terrorism charges to Saipov, who entered the courtroom wheelchair-bound for the Halloween attack. They argue Saipov listened to calls of action from the Islamic State online.

According to the Associated Press, Saipov asked to display the Islamic State group’s flag in his hospital room because he said “he felt good about what he had done.”

Rachel Duthie is the features editor. Contact her at [email protected].