On Wednesday, President Donald Trump said he’d consider sending suspected terrorist Sayfullo Saipov to Guantanamo Bay.
Saipov is accused of masterminding and executing an attack in New York City.
On Tuesday, the man was arrested after driving a rented pickup truck into a crowd of pedestrians and cyclists in Lower Manhattan. Authorities found handwritten notes in the vehicle swearing allegiance to the Islamic State. Saipov was shot by a New York police officer before being detained and taken to an area hospital.
Since his arrest, Saipov hasn’t shown remorse and even asked officials if he could hang the black flag of the Islamic State in his hospital room.
President Trump has purportedly been fuming since the attack, calling the U.S. justice system a “laughingstock” and blaming Saipov for bringing at least 23 other immigrants onto American shores.
The commander-in-chief has called on Congress to end the ‘diversity visa’ lottery program, which enabled Saipov to immigrate to the United States in 2010. He also seized the opportunity to attack Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who’s been a firm advocate of the program for some two decades.
“Diversity lottery. Sounds nice. It’s not nice. It’s not good. It hasn’t been good, and we’ve been against it,” said Trump in a characteristically choppy statement during a Cabinet meeting.
Asked by a reporter whether Saipov should be sent to Guantanamo Bay, Trump indicated that he was open-minded.
“I would certainly consider that. Send him to Gitmo – I would certainly consider that, yes,” the president said.
According to Politico.com, any move to send Saipov to Guantanamo could be complicated by the Justice Department, which has already levied charges against him in a civilian court. While that alone wouldn’t prevent the man from being transferred to military custody in Cuba, it would make the process significantly more complex.
The terrorist came into our country through what is called the "Diversity Visa Lottery Program," a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2017
Trump said that he wants to terror suspects receiving harsher punishments than what “these animals are getting right now.”
“We […] have to come up with punishment that’s far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now. They’ll go through court for years. And at the end, they’ll be – who knows what happens,” President Trump said.
He added, “We need quick justice and we need strong justice – much quicker and much stronger than we have right now. Because what we have right now is a joke and it’s a laughingstock.”
The White House’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, explained Trump’s apparent disregard for due process – the president apparently considers Saipov an “enemy combatant,” a designation Politico says would grant the terrorist fewer rights than ordinary detainees.
Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham both urged the commander-in-chief to do the same.
“Take him to Guantanamo,” said Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), when asked what should be done with Saipov. He said the administration should “say he’s a terrorist; and he should be kept there […] There’s no Miranda Rights for somebody who kills Americans.”
Trump has since taken to Twitter to blast Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for his support of the diversity visa lottery program.
The attack killed eight and wounded a dozen others – among the dead were five Argentinians, a Belgian national, and two Americans.