What makes the Halloween truck attack on New York's West Side Highway terrorism

  • 29-year old Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov is suspected to have rammed a car down a Manhattan bike path, killing 8 and injuring 11.
  • Saipov reportedly had a note in his car pledging allegiance to ISIS.
  • Saipov's apparent political motivation caused the attack to be investigated as an act of terror.

After a rented truck ploughed into bikers and pedestrians on Manhattan's west side, and the driver shouted "Allahu Ackbar," or "God is great" in Arabic, investigators quickly took to calling the incident terror.

The attack left eight dead and 11 wounded, according to reports.

But just a month earlier, when Stephen Paddock opened fire from a high floor in the Mandalay Bay Casino and Resort in Las Vegas, leaving 58 dead and 500 injured, police did not investigate the incident as terror. 

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Truck plows through New York City bike path in terror attack
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Truck plows through New York City bike path in terror attack
Police investigate a vehicle allegedly used in a ramming incident on the West Side Highway in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Parents pick up their children from Public School 89 near the scene where a truck plowed through a bike path in lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. Officials are reporting up to 8 dead and 15 people have been injured. (Photo by Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
All media responding to the incident in Lower Manhattan are asked to meet DCPI reps at Chambers Street and Greenwich Street.

Photo: Martin Speechley/Office of the Deputy Commissioner Public Information (DCPI)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Emergency personal respond after reports of multiple people hit by a truck after it plowed through a bike path in lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. According to reports up to six people may have been killed. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Police gather at the scene after reports of multiple people injured after a truck plowed through a bike path in lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. Officials are reporting up to 6 dead and 11 people have been injured. (Photo by Andy Kiss/Getty Images)
NYPD investigators are at the crime scene near a bike path in lower Manhattan in New York, NY, U.S., October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
A police dog checks out vehicles along the street after a shooting incident in New York City, U.S. October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Police block off the street after a shooting incident in New York City, U.S. October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: NYPD officers respond after reports of multiple people hit by a truck after it plowed through a bike path in lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. According to reports up to six people may have been killed. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
Parents pick up their children from a local school after a shooting incident in New York City, U.S. October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
A NYPD officer stands guard at a crime scene near a bike path where a body is covered with a white-sheet in lower Manhattan in New York, NY, U.S., October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Police direct people away from the scene after reports of multiple people injured after a truck plowed through a bike path in lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. Officials are reporting up to 6 dead and 11 people have been injured. (Photo by Andy Kiss/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: NYPD officers respond after reports of multiple people hit by a truck after it plowed through a bike path in lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. According to reports up to six people may have been killed. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Children are evacuated from a school as Emergency personal Respond after a man driving a rental truck struck and killed eight people on a jogging and bike path in Lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. Officials are reporting up to 8 dead and at least 15 people have been injured. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: NYPD officers respond after reports of multiple people hit by a truck after it plowed through a bike path in lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. According to reports up to six people may have been killed. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
Police investigate a vehicle allegedly used in a ramming incident on the West Side Highway in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
A Home Depot truck which struck down multiple people on a bike path, killing several and injuring numerous others is seen as New York city first responders are at the crime scene in lower Manhattan in New York, NY, U.S., October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Parents pick up their children from P.S./I.S.-89 school after a shooting incident in New York City, U.S. October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Parents pick up their children from P.S./I.S.-89 school after a shooting incident in New York City, U.S. October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Parents pick up their children from P.S./I.S.-89 school after a shooting incident in New York City, U.S. October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Emergency personal respond after a man driving a rental truck struck and killed eight people on a jogging and bike path in Lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. Officials are reporting up to 8 dead and at least 15 people have been injured. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Emergency personal respond after a man driving a rental truck struck and killed eight people on a jogging and bike path in Lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. Officials are reporting up to 8 dead and at least 15 people have been injured. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: A NYPD Officer blocks a street as emergency personal respond after a man driving a rental truck struck and killed eight people on a jogging and bike path in Lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. Officials are reporting up to 8 dead and at least 15 people have been injured. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Parents pick up their children from school near the scene where a truck plowed through a bike path in lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. Officials are reporting up to 8 dead and 15 people have been injured. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Emergency personal respond after a man driving a rental truck struck and killed eight people on a jogging and bike path in Lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. Officials are reporting up to 8 dead and at least 15 people have been injured. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
Law enforcement officers secure an area following an incident in New York on October 31, 2017. A pickup driver killed eight people in New York on Tuesday, mowing down cyclists and pedestrians, before striking a school bus in what officials branded a 'cowardly act of terror.' Eleven others were seriously injured in the broad daylight assault and first deadly terror-related attack in America's financial and entertainment capital since the September 11, 2001 Al-Qaeda hijackings brought down the Twin Towers. / AFP PHOTO / Don EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
An investigator walks past a crashed pickup truck following an incident in New York on October 31, 2017. A pickup driver killed eight people in New York on Tuesday, mowing down cyclists and pedestrians, before striking a school bus in what officials branded a 'cowardly act of terror.' Eleven others were seriously injured in the broad daylight assault and first deadly terror-related attack in America's financial and entertainment capital since the September 11, 2001 Al-Qaeda hijackings brought down the Twin Towers. / AFP PHOTO / Don EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers on Chambers Street surround the rented Home Depot Inc. pick up truck used in a motorist attack on the West Side of Manhattan in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. A man in a rented pickup truck drove onto a busy bicycle path near the World Trade Center memorial and mowed down people Tuesday, killing at least eight and injuring several others. Photographer: Tim Fadek/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Emergency personal respond after a man driving a rental truck struck and killed eight people on a jogging and bike path in Lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. Officials are reporting up to 8 dead and at least 15 people have been injured. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Parents pick up their children from Public School 89 near the scene where a truck plowed through a bike path in lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. Officials are reporting up to 8 dead and 15 people have been injured. (Photo by Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Police surround the area where a truck plowed through a bike path in lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. Officials are reporting up to 6 dead and 15 people have been injured.(Photo by Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Authorities walk just outside the perimeter of the crime scene following a shooting incident in New York on October 31, 2017. Several people were killed and numerous others injured in New York on Tuesday when a suspect plowed a vehicle into a bike and pedestrian path in Lower Manhattan, and struck another vehicle on Halloween, police said. A suspect exited the vehicle holding up fake guns, before being shot by police and taken into custody, officers said. The motive was not immediately apparent. / AFP PHOTO / Don EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Parents pick up their children from Public School 89 near the scene where a truck plowed through a bike path in lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. Officials are reporting up to 8 dead and 15 people have been injured. (Photo by Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, USA - OCTOBER 31 : Security forces cordon off the area after a man reportedly drove a pick up truck along a bike lane near the West Side Highway in New York City on October 31, 2017. Eight people were reportedly killed in the incident, at least 12 were injured. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Children are evacuated from a school as emergency personal respond after a man driving a rental truck struck and killed eight people on a jogging and bike path in Lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. Officials are reporting up to 8 dead and at least 15 people have been injured. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: SWAT members check for explosives under a car one block from the scene where a truck plowed through a bike path in lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. Officials are reporting up to 6 dead and 15 people have been injured.(Photo by Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Parents pick up their children from Public School 89 near the scene where a truck plowed through a bike path in lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. Officials are reporting up to 8 dead and 15 people have been injured. (Photo by Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, USA - OCTOBER 31 : Security forces cordon off the area after a man reportedly drove a pick up truck along a bike lane near the West Side Highway in New York City on October 31, 2017. Eight people were reportedly killed in the incident, at least 12 were injured. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: A NYPD Officer blocks a street as emergency personal respond after a man driving a rental truck struck and killed eight people on a jogging and bike path in Lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. Officials are reporting up to 8 dead and at least 15 people have been injured. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, USA - OCTOBER 31 : Security forces cordon off the area after a man reportedly drove a pick up truck along a bike lane near the West Side Highway in New York City on October 31, 2017. Eight people were reportedly killed in the incident, at least 12 were injured. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
New York Fire Department (NYFD) and New York Police Department (NYPD) vehicles sit parked on a blocked off street after a motorist attack on the West Side of Manhattan in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. A man in a rented pickup truck drove onto a busy bicycle path near the World Trade Center memorial and mowed down people Tuesday, killing at least eight and injuring several others. Photographer: Tim Fadek/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A young girl reacts as police officers secure an area following a shooting incident in New York on October 31, 2017. Several people were killed and numerous others injured in New York on Tuesday after a vehicle plowed into a pedestrian and bike path in Lower Manhattan, police said. 'The vehicle struck multiple people on the path,' police tweeted. 'The vehicle continued south striking another vehicle. The suspect exited the vehicle displaying imitation firearms & was shot by NYPD.' / AFP PHOTO / Don EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, USA - OCTOBER 31 : Security forces cordon off the area after a man reportedly drove a pick up truck along a bike lane near the West Side Highway in New York City on October 31, 2017. Eight people were reportedly killed in the incident, at least 12 were injured. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Police officers inspect a truck following a shooting incident in New York on October 31, 2017. Several people were killed and numerous others injured in New York on Tuesday when a suspect plowed a vehicle into a bike and pedestrian path in Lower Manhattan, and struck another vehicle on Halloween, police said. A suspect exited the vehicle holding up fake guns, before being shot by police and taken into custody, officers said. The motive was not immediately apparent. / AFP PHOTO / Don EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Emergency personal respond to reports of possible shooting in Lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. According to reports up to eight people may have been killed. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
A bicycles lies inside the roped off crime scene following a shooting incident in New York on October 31, 2017. Several people were killed and numerous others injured in New York on Tuesday when a suspect plowed a vehicle into a bike and pedestrian path in Lower Manhattan, and struck another vehicle on Halloween, police said. A suspect exited the vehicle holding up fake guns, before being shot by police and taken into custody, officers said. The motive was not immediately apparent. / AFP PHOTO / Don EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
Police investigate a vehicle allegedly used in a ramming incident on the West Side Highway in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Police officers secure an area following a shooting incident in New York on October 31, 2017. Several people were killed and numerous others injured in New York on Tuesday after a vehicle plowed into a pedestrian and bike path in Lower Manhattan, police said. 'The vehicle struck multiple people on the path,' police tweeted. 'The vehicle continued south striking another vehicle. The suspect exited the vehicle displaying imitation firearms & was shot by NYPD.' / AFP PHOTO / Don EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers arrive at the scene following a shooting incident in New York on October 31, 2017. Multiple people were hurt in downtown Manhattan, US media reported after police confirmed that they were responding to reports of a shooting. Police said they had mobilized to the scene in Lower Manhattan and that one person was in custody, giving no further details. / AFP PHOTO / Don EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
People watch as police officers secure an area following a shooting incident in New York on October 31, 2017. Several people were killed and numerous others injured in New York on Tuesday after a vehicle plowed into a pedestrian and bike path in Lower Manhattan, police said. 'The vehicle struck multiple people on the path,' police tweeted. 'The vehicle continued south striking another vehicle. The suspect exited the vehicle displaying imitation firearms & was shot by NYPD.' / AFP PHOTO / Don EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
A pickup truck used in an attack sits on the intersection of West and Chambers Street in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 31 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
NEW YORK - OCTOBER 31: Media gathers at West St. and Murray St. after a man driving a rental truck struck and killed eight people on a jogging and bike path in Lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. Officials are reporting up to 8 dead and at least 15 people have been injured. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - OCTOBER 31: Police gather at Greenwich St. and Murray St. after a man driving a rental truck struck and killed eight people on a jogging and bike path in Lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. Officials are reporting up to 8 dead and at least 15 people have been injured. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
Parents pick up their children from P.S./I.S.-89 school after a shooting incident in New York City, U.S. October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Parents pick up their children from P.S./I.S.-89 school after a shooting incident in New York City, U.S. October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Parents pick up their children from P.S./I.S.-89 school after a shooting incident in New York City, U.S. October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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The reason why comes down to motivation.

"This was an act of terror, and a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians, aimed at people going about their lives who had no idea what was about to hit them," said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio just hours after the attack.

"He did make a statement when he exited the vehicle," New York Police Department commissioner James O'Neill said of the suspect, 29-year-old Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, an Uzbek national from Tampa, Florida.

"And if you just look at the M-O of the attack – that's consistent with what's been going on. So, that, along with the statement that's enabled us to label this a terrorist event," O'Neill added.

Multiple outlets reported that investigators found a note in Saipov's car pledging allegiance to ISIS, though the terror group's news agency Amaq made no mention of his attack immediately after.

But New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called Tuesday's carnage a "lone wolf" attack and said there was no evidence to suggest it was part of a wider plot.

So even though Saipov likely acted alone, he is still being investigated as a terrorist due to his political motivation.

"While definitions for terrorism differ, the overwhelming majority of them distinguish terrorism from other crimes of violence by the purpose of the actor, not the severity of the harm caused," said Robert Eatinger, the former Senior Deputy General Counsel at the CIA told the Cipher Brief in October.

11 PHOTOS
Halloween events in New York go on as planned after terror attack
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Halloween events in New York go on as planned after terror attack
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Kids in Halloween Customscross the street near the scene where a man driving a rental truck struck and killed eight people on a jogging and bike path in Lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. Officials are reporting up to 8 dead and at least 15 people have been injured. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
People in Halloween costumes stand near the scene of a pickup truck attack on West Street in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 31 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
A man in costume (R) passes a police officer at a barricade as he enters the New York City Halloween parade, after a shooting incident blocks away in New York City, U.S. October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Students from Stuyvesant high school are evacuated after a man driving a rental truck struck and killed eight people on a jogging and bike path in Lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. Officials are reporting up to 8 dead and at least 15 people have been injured. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Kids in Halloween Customscross the street near the scene where a man driving a rental truck struck and killed eight people on a jogging and bike path in Lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. Officials are reporting up to 8 dead and at least 15 people have been injured. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Students from Stuyvesant high school are evacuated after a man driving a rental truck struck and killed eight people on a jogging and bike path in Lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. Officials are reporting up to 8 dead and at least 15 people have been injured. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Students from Stuyvesant high school are evacuated after a man driving a rental truck struck and killed eight people on a jogging and bike path in Lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. Officials are reporting up to 8 dead and at least 15 people have been injured. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Parents pick up their children from Public School 89 near the scene where a truck plowed through a bike path in lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. Officials are reporting up to 8 dead and 15 people have been injured. (Photo by Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Kids in Halloween Customscross the street near the scene where a man driving a rental truck struck and killed eight people on a jogging and bike path in Lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. Officials are reporting up to 8 dead and at least 15 people have been injured. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
Marina Monitto walks with her children Francesco (L) and Pietro (R) past the scene of a pickup truck attack, on West Street in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 31 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
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In response to the apparent terror attack, President Donald Trump tweeted that he had "ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program," and taking the opportunity to criticize political correctness.

But Saipov hails from Uzbekistan, a country never listed in Trump's proposed travel bans. Saipov used no firearms that legislation could restrict access to. According to those who knew Saipov, he didn't display any warning signs.

Saipov spent the months before the attack driving for Uber in New Jersey. It's still unclear what led him to commit the apparent act of terror or promote the cause of ISIS in the single bloodiest attack in New York City since September 11, 2001.

See Also:

Read more about Saipov, the suspect here: 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov identified as suspect in New York terror attack, reportedly left note pledging ISIS loyalty

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