WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he would like for the suspect in this week’s deadly truck attack in New York City to be sent to the Guantanamo Bay military prison, but that the process typically is a complicated one.
“Would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the Federal system,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
The president added that it also may be more appropriate to keep the suspect, Uzbek immigrant Sayfullo Saipov, on US soil.
“There is also something appropriate about keeping him in the home of the horrible crime he committed. Should move fast. DEATH PENALTY!” Trump said.
Saipov is accused of killing eight and injuring at least 11 others by slamming a rented pickup truck into pedestrians and bicyclists in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday.
The suspect, who eyewitnesses say screamed “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for “God is great,” and waved a paintball gun and a pellet gun after stepping out of the vehicle, was shot at least once in the abdomen by police.
Saipov, who appeared in court on Wednesday in a wheelchair to face terrorism charges, had spent several weeks preparing the attack and precisely followed the online instructions of the Islamic State terror organization, authorities in New York said Wednesday in a press conference.
A day after what is considered the deadliest attack in New York City since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Trump said he would consider sending the suspect to Guantanamo, the American military prison in Cuba where the US began detaining suspected terrorists indefinitely without trial after 9/11.
“Send him to Gitmo – I would certainly consider that,” Trump, using a nickname for Guantanamo, said when asked about that possibility by one reporter.
No one detained on US soil has ever been sent to the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and no suspected terrorists captured abroad have been transferred there since 2008.
Former President Barack Obama vowed to close Guantanamo upon taking office in early 2009; although he did not keep that promise, he reduced its population from 242 inmates to 41 by transferring nearly 200 individuals to third countries.