WASHINGTON• • US President Donald Trump has called for the man charged with carrying out a New York City truck rampage that killed eight people to be put to death.
Prosecutors have filed charges against Sayfullo Saipov, a 29-year-old Uzbek immigrant who appeared in court on Wednesday in a wheelchair - he had been shot in the abdomen by police - a day after mowing down cyclists and pedestrians, and colliding with a school bus.
They said he confessed to acting in the name of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and said he "felt good" about the killings.
Mr Trump appeared to backtrack yesterday on the idea of sending Saipov to the US prison for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay.
"Would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the Federal system," Mr Trump wrote in a blast of early morning tweets.
Mr Trump added: "There is also something appropriate about keeping him in the home of the horrible crime he committed. Should move fast. DEATH PENALTY!"
He also vowed an immediate crackdown on the visa programme that he said allowed Saipov to immigrate in 2010.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has drastically stepped up security at airports, tunnels and Penn Station after the deadliest attack in New York City since the Al-Qaeda hijackings on Sept 11, 2001.
Though it is unclear if Saipov acted alone, the authorities said they found a second Uzbek they had been seeking in their investigation - 32-year-old Mukhammadzoir Kadirov - but did not elaborate.
Saipov first started planning an attack a year ago, before settling two months ago on using a truck to kill as many people as possible during Halloween celebrations, according to prosecutors. Saipov yelled "Allahu akbar" ("God is greatest" in Arabic) on exiting a rented pickup in Lower Manhattan.
"Saipov committed this attack in support of ISIS," said US acting Manhattan attorney Joon Kim.
He was found in possession of multiple knives in a black bag, a Florida driving licence and two mobile phones that contained thousands of ISIS propaganda images and dozens of ISIS propaganda videos, Mr Kim said.
The files depicted "among other things, ISIS fighters killing prisoners by running over them with a tank, beheading them, and shooting them in the face", he added.
Saipov faces two charges: provision of material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organisation, and violence and destruction of motor vehicles. Mr Kim said the material support charge can lead to life imprisonment. Federal prosecutors could potentially seek the death penalty.
In the largely Muslim neighbourhood where Saipov lived with his wife and children for little over a year in the New Jersey town of Paterson, residents seethed with anger on Wednesday. "They should hang him!" snapped the manager of a launderette near his modest apartment. "If you come to the US, it's to do something better, not something bad!" she spat, refusing to give her name out of fear.
Vehicle rammings have been a frequent tactic deployed by ISIS sympathisers in the West, including in Barcelona, London, Stockholm and Nice.
"He appears to have followed almost exactly to a T the instructions that ISIS has put out in its social media channels before, with instructions to their followers on how to carry out such an attack," senior police officer John Miller said.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES