After eight people were killed and almost a dozen injured when a 29-year-old drove down a busy bicycle path on the Lower West Side of Manhattan on Tuesday, reports said eyewitnesses had heard the suspect, identified as Sayfullo Saipov, shouting “Allahu Akbar” as he carried out the attack.

Multiple news outlets also said authorities have found handwritten notes in Arabic in the truck after the attack. However, this has not been confirmed by officials.

The Arabic phrase, allegedly shouted by Saipov, translates as “God is greater” (not 'God is great' as it is commonly translated). Saipov is not the first terrorist to use it. The phrase was also used by the perpetrators of several other terror attacks across the world— most recently in London and Belgium.

The phrase, which is used by Muslims and Arabic speaking Orthodox Christians as an expression of their faith, is a reminder to Muslims that in any situation, God is greater than any real or imaginary entity, the Telegraph said in a 2016 report.

Aslam Abdullah, editor-in-chief, and director of  Muslim Media Network Inc., told the Los Angeles Times in a video: "It is perhaps the most defining term in Islam, which reminds those who use this term that they would give up their egos, that they would not use their political, cultural, social, ethnic, and geographic interests to promote their own ideas."

However, the phrase has in recent years come to be associated with Islamist extremism in the collective consciousness, because it has been heard repeatedly during several terror attacks. For example, witnesses to the  Paris attacks reported hearing several of the attackers shouting “Allahu Akbar”. The gunman in the Orlando shooting in June 2016 is also reported to have shouted out the phrase during the attack.

On Tuesday, Donald Trump Jr. shared a tweet by New York City Alerts, which said Saipov was heard shouting “Allahu Akbar,” with the comment that he hoped the report was inaccurate.

The phrase first gained notoriety after the 9/11 terror attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in which 2,600 people were killed. That attack happened a few blocks away from Tuesday's attack. The phrase was found in a four-page Arabic document discovered in the baggage of Mohamed Atta, the suspected leader of the 9/11 attacks. It read [in part]:

“When the confrontation begins, strike like champions who do not want to go back to this world. Shout, 'Allahu Akbar,' because this strikes fear in the hearts of the non-believers. God said: 'Strike above the neck, and strike at all of their extremities.” The phrase has also been routinely used in videos released by the Islamic State terror group.

Many people -- including non-Muslims -- have pointed out that the meaning of 'Allahu Akbar' got warped after it became the preferred war-cry of Islamic fanatics launching terror attacks on innocent people.

Muslim Media Network's Abdullah reiterated that the term was being misused and told LA Times: "And when terrorists use this 'Allahu Akbar,' they are hijacking this term, they’re hijacking religion, hijacking God."

Chicago-based writer and doctor Hesham Hassaballah said on Beliefnet, a lifestyle website:  “'Allahu Akbar' was never intended to be the 'battle cry' of Muslims, the contentions of many notwithstanding. I hate it when Muslim terrorists use (and subsequently defile) this phrase. 'Allahu Akbar' teaches us humility. It reminds the Muslim belief that God is Supreme, that God is greater than anyone or anything in this universe.”

He added that Muslims use the phrase to begin their daily ritual prayers, and it was an important part of the Muslim call to prayer.