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Trump Reiterates Call For Death Penalty For New York Attack Suspect


Sayfullo Saipov is seen in this courtroom sketch appearing in a Manhattan federal courtroom in a wheelchair on November 1.

U.S. President Donald Trump has repeated calls for an Uzbek immigrant accused of killing eight people in a New York truck rampage to get the death penalty.

However, Trump on November 2 backed away from his earlier call to send 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov to the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“Would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the Federal system...” the U.S. president tweeted.

“...There is also something appropriate about keeping him in the home of the horrible crime he committed. Should move fast. DEATH PENALTY!” he wrote in separate post.

Trump had already said Saipov deserved the death penalty in a tweet late on November 1.

“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!” he wrote, using an alternate acronym for the Islamic State (IS) extremist group.

U.S. prosecutors brought terrorism charges against Saipov on November 1, saying he was inspired by Islamic State.

He is accused of driving a rented pickup truck that mowed down bicyclists and pedestrians on October 31, killing eight people and injuring 12. He was also charged with providing material support to a terrorist group.

In the attack, police say Saipov drove the vehicle along a bike path in Lower Manhattan before crashing into a school bus.

The suspect was shot by police after he jumped out of the pickup truck brandishing two air guns and yelling "God is great" in Arabic, authorities said.

Saipov was brought to a court in Manhattan in a wheelchair handcuffed and with his feet shackled to face the charges against him, which could bring the death penalty.

Prosecutors told the court that he asked to display IS's black flag in his hospital room after he was shot by police and said "he felt good about what he had done."

They said he openly confessed to the attack while being questioned in custody at a hospital after being shot.

Prosecutors also said that he had 90 videos and 3,800 photos on one of his two cell phones, many of them IS-related propaganda, including images of prisoners being beheaded, shot, or run over by a tank.

Court documents said that Saipov deliberately chose Halloween to stage the attack "because he believed there would be more civilians on the street" and more people would be killed.

Questioned in his hospital bed, Saipov said he had been inspired by the IS videos that he watched on his cell phone and began plotting an attack about a year ago, deciding to use a truck about two months ago, FBI agent Amber Tyree said in court papers.

During the last few weeks, Saipov searched the Internet for information on Halloween in New York City and for truck rentals, the agent said.

John Miller, deputy New York police commissioner for intelligence, said Saipov was not a subject of a criminal investigation before the attack, but he appears to have had links with people who were under investigation.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said on November 1 that it had located another Uzbek man -- identified as 32-year-old Mukhammadzoir Kadirov -- wanted for questioning as a person of interest in the attack.

A law enforcement official was quoted as saying Kadirov was a friend of Saipov's.

In the past few years, IS online posts have exhorted followers to use vehicles, knives, or other readily available means of killing people in their home countries.

England, France, Sweden, Spain, and Germany are among the countries that have all seen similar deadly vehicle attacks since mid-2016.

With reporting by AFP, AP, Reuters, and dpa
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