After planning for a year, Sayfullo Saipov allegedly chose Halloween to drive a rented Home Depot truck into pedestrians in New York City because he believed there'd be more targets outside, making his goal of killing as many people as possible more attainable, reports the Washington Post, which cites a charging document. It's a goal that shocks some who knew Saipov, 29, who grew up in a "normal, secular, and peaceful family" in Uzbekistan, a former neighbor tells CNN. Authorities now believe Saipov was radicalized online after coming to the US in 2010. He reportedly told police he decided to carry out an attack a year ago after seeing a video of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi calling on Muslims worldwide to avenge the killings of Muslims in Iraq.
But Saipov—who spent the last year and a half living in Paterson, NJ—reportedly told investigators it was only two months ago that he settled on using a truck, inside of which were Arabic notes declaring Saipov's allegiance to ISIS, per the Post. Though evidence suggests he acted alone, authorities continue to examine whether Saipov had help. The FBI hasn't said why it sought to locate 32-year-old Muhammad Kadirov on Wednesday. However, a source who describes Kadirov as Saipov's cousin says Kadirov is cooperating with police and is "horrified" by the attack. Meanwhile, the Muslim community in Paterson fears a backlash, reports the Post. A mosque near Saipov's home has already received calls threatening death and destruction, per USA Today.