CUPP: ISIS is over here now


Sayfullah Habibullahevic Saipov, the driver of a truck in New York who allegedly killed eight people on Tuesday. / AFP PHOTO / St. Charles County Dept. of Corrections

Tuesday, an ISIS-inspired Islamic terrorist drove a rented truck through a crowd of people on a Lower Manhattan bike path, killing eight and wounding others while shouting “Allahu Akbar.”

For those of us who lived through 9/11, the incident brings flooding back some very raw, painful memories.

Those memories, of two planes slicing through the tops of the World Trade Center, are recalled frequently, for many of us, every time we board a plane and think, will this one be hijacked? Will this plane go down?


But now, frighteningly, it seems the new preferred weapon of war for Islamic extremists has just jumped the pond, creating a new kind of panic, anxiety and fear, this time about vehicular attacks on crowded streets.

The attack follows a wave of vehicular attacks in Europe — a tourist area in Barcelona, the London Bridge, Stockholm, London’s Westminster Bridge, a market in Berlin and a holiday celebration in Nice, France.

Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, an Uzbeki national who arrived here in 2010, drove a rented Home Depot truck into a crowd and then stepped outside brandishing two imitation guns before he was shot in the abdomen by a heroic young police officer.

Terrifying as it was, the incident was textbook for the terror network that has evolved from Al Qaeda’s suicide vests and box cutters to these vehicular attacks. Saipov even left a note declaring his allegiance to ISIS.

In short, he did what ISIS told him to do. In 2014, an ISIS spokesman, according to CNN, called for these lone wolf attacks using “improvised weaponry.” “If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet,” he said, “then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman or any of the allies. Smash his head with a rock or slaughter him with a knife or run him over with your car or throw him down from a high place or choke him or poison him.”

As former Navy Seal Rob O’Neill put it on Fox News, “He followed every guideline” of the terror network: “Get a large vehicle, a flatbed truck or, you know, a lorry and then an ISIS flag or depiction of ISIS flag in the vehicle. Have a note talking about ISIS, which he did.”

And it wasn’t the first. Last year, a Somali refugee rammed his vehicle into a crowd at Ohio State University in the name of ISIS.

But just because it was the first of its kind in New York City, it doesn’t mean we weren’t prepared for it. For the past few years, New York police have been reaching out to truck rental businesses to warn them about these kinds of threats.

“We visited over 148 truck rental locations in this area,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller said at a news conference yesterday. “The industry has had a high level of awareness on this matter from the NYPD.”

What all this means is that we are still vulnerable. ISIS and Islamic extremism is not merely “over there.” There is no “over there,” when people born in the United States can be radicalized by ISIS and its propaganda. President Trump’s travel ban wouldn’t have stopped this attack, and it won’t stop future attacks. Police, likewise, admit they cannot put concrete barricades on every sidewalk in every city.

The western world must fight ISIS both here and “over there,” on the battlefields and in embassies. Political instability in places like Syria, Libya, Yemen and Mali create power vacuums that will be filled by Islamic extremists like ISIS every time. We continue to ignore them at our own peril.

Congressman Adam Schiff, a Democrat, wrote of ISIS last year in The Daily Beast, “We must recognize that the threat is also changing as it is spreading.” He urged “the coordinated use of military power, strong diplomacy to end the political infighting, capacity building, and efforts to sow division between local ISIS affiliates and their terrorist sponsors.”

All of that is true. What the attack in New York — as well as the countless similar attacks all over Europe — should tell us is that Islamic extremism will evolve, adapt, shift and migrate unless and until it is eradicated totally. On Tuesday, ISIS wasn’t “over there.” It was here.

Contact Cupp at

This column first appeared in the New York Daily News.

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