US President Donald Trump called for the death penalty on Wednesday for an Uzbek immigrant accused of plowing a truck down a New York City bike path, killing eight people, describing the man as a “terrorist.”
Sayfullo Saipov, 29, who was hospitalised after he was shot by a police officer and arrested, told investigators he had been inspired by watching Islamic State videos and began planning Tuesday’s attack a year ago, according to a criminal complaint filed against him on Wednesday.
“NYC terrorist was happy as he asked to hang ISIS flag in his hospital room. He killed 8 people, badly injured 12. Should get the death penalty,” Trump tweeted.
Saipov was charged with one count of providing material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organisation, specifically Islamic State, and one count of violence and destruction of motor vehicles causing the deaths of eight people.
NYC terrorist was happy as he asked to hang ISIS flag in his hospital room. He killed 8 people, badly injured 12. SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!
Manhattan acting US Attorney Joon Kim said the first count carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, while the second would make Saipov eligible for capital punishment if convicted, if the government chose to seek the death penalty. Additional or different charges could be brought later in an indictment, Kim said.
Saipov confessed to authorities that he made a trial run with a rental truck on October 22 to practice turning the vehicle and “stated that he felt good about what he had done” after the attack, the complaint said.
The 10-page charging document said Saipov waived his rights to remain silent and avoid self-incrimination in agreeing to speak to investigators without an attorney present from his bed at Bellevue Hospital Centre in Manhattan.
Earlier in the day, Trump said he would be open to transferring Saipov to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where other suspects including alleged September 11 plotters are held.
Kim, the federal prosecutor, said there was nothing about charging Saipov in civilian court that would necessarily prevent him from later being declared an enemy combatant.