ISIS will pay big price for attacks on US, Trump warns

NEW YORK • President Donald Trump yesterday said the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group will pay a "big price" for every attack it stages against the United States.

The US military has hit ISIS "much harder" over the past two days after the terror group claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack in New York City's Lower Manhattan borough that killed eight people and wounded a dozen more, Mr Trump said.

"They will pay a big price for every attack on us!" Mr Trump wrote on Twitter.

ISIS claimed the attack in a statement issued in the group's weekly newsletter on Thursday, calling Tuesday's rampage "one of the most prominent attacks targeting Crusaders in America". It described the suspect, Sayfullo Saipov, 29, as a "soldier of the caliphate" and added that the attack was carried out in response to the group's call to target "citizens of the Crusader countries involved in the alliance against the Islamic State (in Iraq and Syria)".

It was an uncharacteristically late claim for a group that in the past year has typically issued its statements within the first 24 hours after an attack.

It was also not released through the ISIS Amaq News Agency, which is usually the first to carry such statements. And it marks a break with the usual pattern of not claiming responsibility for an attack when a suspect is in custody.

As the investigation continues, the federal authorities are increasingly focusing on a wedding in Florida two years ago attended by Saipov as a possible key to understanding whether he had personal ties to people connected to ISIS, law enforcement officials said.

A person at the wedding was under scrutiny by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as part of a terrorism investigation at the time, the officials said. Saipov's presence at the wedding brought him to the FBI's attention, though it did not prompt an investigation of him, law enforcement officials said.

The US military has hit ISIS "much harder" over the past two days after the terror group claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack in New York City's Lower Manhattan borough that killed eight people and wounded a dozen more, Mr Trump said.

The wedding was held in August 2015 in the clubhouse of a sprawling apartment complex in Fort Myers, Florida, that was the home of relatives of Saipov, according to a Muslim cleric whom Saipov invited to the celebration.

The groom was the brother-in-law of Saipov, an immigrant from Uzbekistan. The bride was an Uzbek woman from Fort Myers, whose family lived in the apartment complex where the celebration was held.

The person at the wedding who was under an active FBI investigation would have been the subject of physical and electronic surveillance.

It is not clear if the FBI is still investigating that person.

Officials have also not named that person or said why they were investigating the person.

Federal investigators this week were pursuing another lead related to Saipov's friendships in Florida. They announced on Wednesday that they were trying to learn more about a second Uzbek man, Mukhammadzoir Kadirov, 32.

Later that day, they said they had found Mr Kadirov in New Jersey. They did not say why they were interested in him.

On Thursday, Mr Kadirov, through an intermediary, issued a statement denouncing the attack in New York. "It is so sad and unbelievable," the statement read in part. "It is not acceptable. We as Muslims completely reject this kind of actions. No human being who has a heart can do this."

In New York on Thursday, the Transportation Department began placing hundreds of concrete barriers at 57 intersections along the Hudson River Park Bikeway.

NYTIMES, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2017, with the headline 'ISIS will pay big price for attacks on US, Trump warns'. Print Edition | Subscribe