A mass killing in New York perpetrated by a citizen of Uzbekistan is reviving fevered speculation about the dangers of Islamist-inspired terrorism spilling out of Central Asia.
People who study the region have long warned, however, against rushing to weave simplistic narratives about religiously motivated violence.
The biography of the man that police have identified as the driver of a rented van that plowed into pedestrians and cyclists on a Manhattan bike path on October 31 is a vivid illustration of the challenge facing those in search of clear-cut explanations.
Sayfullo Saipov, 29, is the archetypal migrant who got a lucky break in his pursuit of the American Dream. He moved to the United States in 2010 by winning a slot in the US Diversity Visa Lottery – an initiative that US President Donald Trump is now threatening to scrap. In 2015 alone, more than 1.3 million Uzbeks – roughly one in every 25 people living in the country – tried their luck in the lottery. Only around 2,500 of those applicants got US visas.
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