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Anger wells in New York suspect's shocked Jersey town

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The largely Muslim neighbourhood where the New York terrorist suspect lived for little over a year seethed with anger on Wednesday, furious that the Uzbek had besmirched their hard-working immigrant community.

[PATERSON, United States] The largely Muslim neighbourhood where the New York terrorist suspect lived for little over a year seethed with anger on Wednesday, furious that the Uzbek had besmirched their hard-working immigrant community.

"They should hang him!" snapped the manager of a launderette near the two-storey brick building where Sayfullo Saipov lived with his wife and children in the New Jersey town of Paterson.

"If you come to the US, it's to do something better, not something bad!" she spat, refusing to give her name out of fear.

Paterson is just 32km northwest of New York but is otherwise far removed from the glittering skyscrapers and wealth of the TriBeCa neighborhood where Saipov killed eight people in the name of the Islamic State group on Tuesday.

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A former industrial hub, the median household income was less than US$33,000 between 2011-15, only 10 per cent of residents had a university degree or higher and more than 34 per cent of residents were foreign-born.

In the southern part of the town, home to Pakistani, Palestinian, Syrian and Turkish communities, anger was palpable on Wednesday that the man wanted for the worst attack in New York since the September 11, 2001 Al-Qaeda hijackings had lived among them.

As President Donald Trump vowed to terminate the Green Card lottery programme that allowed Saipov to enter the US, neighbours spoke of their desire to be accepted in a country where many had migrated at considerable personal cost, and saw Saipov as a liability.

Sala Merakai, a 25-year-old Algerian who is already a permanent US resident, blamed US authorities.

"Before giving him his visa, they should have got to know this person, where he came from and what he did," Mr Merakai told AFP.

Piecing together a detailed picture of the man was difficult, but he reportedly worked as an Uber driver and a truck driver.

Handwritten notes in Arabic pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group were found at the scene, along with multiple knives in the smashed-up pickup truck with which he mowed down pedestrians and cyclists.

TOOK 'KIDS TO SCHOOL'

Forensic investigators, their shoes wrapped in plastic, trudged in and out of the building where he lived in an apartment.

There was no sign of his family, as police intelligence and the FBI interview his friends, relatives and associates.

Neither at shops, nor at the mosque did people appear to remember the young man with a bushy black beard. Altana Dimitrovska, who lived in the same building, was the rare exception. She says they occasionally said hello, but nothing more.

"He was walking his kids to school in the morning," she told AFP.

An employee at a nearby supermarket told the New York Post that Saipov had been "erratic" and regularly argued with cashiers. "He would get angry very fast... he would break the cans, dumb things," the manager was quoted as saying.

Ms Dimitrovska said he arrived in Paterson a little over a year ago, where he reportedly attended the Omar mosque.

"We had never seen this man," said Hasan Husein, a member of the mosque administration.

"Our mosque has nothing to do with that," added Ibrahim Matair, another member. "We condemn this act of violence."

As in the wake of jihadist attacks across the world in both the West and Muslim-majority countries, people in Paterson said Tuesday's attacker and IS-sympathisers knew nothing of religion.

"These people don't know anything about Islam," says Mr Merakai. "ISIS finds people who are brainless and then manipulates them." Those living on his street were in shock.

"We thought we were pretty safe," said Kimberly Perez, 20. "But to know that someone like that lives down the street is scary," she added.

"We're shocked, very shocked. This a nice neighbourhood," said Mildred Malave, 56, who lives a few blocks north but whose husband works at a recycling company about 30m down the street from Saipov's place.

AFP

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