The US will consider treating Manhattan truck attack suspect Sayfullo Saipov, 29, as an “enemy combatant” moving forward, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday.
“I believe we would consider this person to be an enemy combatant, yes,” Sanders said. “I think the actions that he took certainly justify that.” The White House has yet to make a final determination, however, she noted.
US President Donald Trump’s administration may also add Uzbekistan to its travel ban after the deadly terror attack in New York, Sanders told reporters at the daily press briefing.
When asked whether Uzbekistan’s citizens will now also be blocked from entering the US, she said, “That is not something we have called for at this time, but certainly have not ruled it out.”
“My administration is coordinating closely between federal and local officials to investigate the attack and to further investigate this animal who did the attacking,” Trump said during opening remarks at a cabinet meeting Wednesday. The event spurred Trump to vow that he would end the Diversity Immigration Lottery program.
“We also have to come up with punishment that’s far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now,” the president continued, noting that the US needs “quick justice” and “strong justice.” The current treatment of suspected terrorists is a “joke” and “laughing stock,” according to Trump.
On Tuesday, Saipov, an Uzbek national, carried out a vehicular attack in Lower Manhattan, slaying eight people and wounding a dozen more.
Ex-CIA counterterrorism officer John Kiriakou told Sputnik News, “I think this is a lone wolf attack, but it’s impossible to say at this early stage. Certainly the joint terrorism task force in New York area is investigating this man’s contacts, the people that he lived with, the people that he socialized with. He came to New York from Tampa, Florida, so the FBI is active there, so I think they are not sure, but they are telling the press at least that it appears that he acted alone.”