According to research featured in the Department of State’s 2016 country report on terrorism, Uzbek nationalists are most likely to develop extremist views while working as migrant workers abroad.
“U.S.-commissioned research has shown that Uzbeks are most likely to radicalize while working as migrants abroad,” the report declared in the countering violent extremism section on Uzbekistan.
This is especially relevant in the wake of the horrific terrorist attack in New York City recently, where Uzbek immigrant Sayfullo Saipov drove a van he rented into a group of pedestrians, killing eight and wounding twelve. Saipov entered the U.S. in 2010 under a diversity visa, he was a legal resident at the time of the attack.
In the van he used to commit the terrorist attack were notes declaring his allegiance to the islamic state and he reportedly told investigators that he is “proud” of his work and he wished he had the opportunity to kill more innocent people.
According to a former friend of Saipov, he didn’t outwardly express any terrorist or extremist views around 2010 when he was just entering the U.S.
“He liked the U.S. He seemed very lucky, and all the time he was happy and talking like everything is O.K. He did not seem like a terrorist, but I did not know him from the inside,” the friend said, adding, “he was a very good person when I knew him.”
There have been red flags in Saipov’s past however, like in 2015 when he was questioned by federal authorities after being listed as a point of contact by two men on a terror watchlist, but he himself was never the center of an investigation. There was also reports of Saipov getting into verbal disputes with workers at the local supermarket concerning their use of the hijab.