New York City terror attack puts focus on immigration lottery

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The terrorist suspected of mowing down people on the Hudson River bike path entered the country through a little-known immigration lottery, a program now coming under the microscope.

Suspect Sayfullo Saipov, of Uzbekistan, was granted a green card in 2010 to come to the U.S. legally through the Diversity Visa Program, which came about in the 1990s as a way to diversify the immigration population in the United States.

But 7 On Your Side Investigates uncovered a 2007 government report highly critical of the fraud risks posed by lax vetting of immigrant applicants. Among the report's findings were that "widespread use of fake documents and passports could lead to terrorist and criminals entering the U.S."

While vetting has since been tightened, President Donald Trump on Wednesday called for ending the Diversity Visa Lottery.

Meanwhile, authorities believe Saipov became radicalized through the internet, specifically through ISIS-created websites such as Inspire Magazine.

In the most recent edition, it instructs followers to "gather as much information about your target as possible." It goes on to encourage would-be attackers to "know your target inside and out so that you may inflict damage beyond anything the enemy imagines."

The NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller said, "he appears to have followed almost exactly to a T the instructions ISIS has put out in its social media channels."

Saipov is said to be talking from his hospital bed, bragging about his attack. He reportedly has told authorities that he had contact with ISIS-affiliated people but that he was not directed by them. Authorities say Saipov had friends with whom the FBI had interest.

"It appears that he will have some connectivity to individuals who were the subjects of investigations, though he himself was not," Miller said.

CLICK HERE to read the Government Accountability Office Report on Diversity Visa Program.

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