The Islamic State group claimed responsibility late Thursday for the truck rampage in New York City this week that left eight people dead.
It did not provide any evidence for the claim.
The terrorist group nevertheless referred to the suspected attacker, Uzbekistan national Sayfullo Saipov, 29, as a “soldier of the Caliphate.”
The comments were published in the group’s weekly al-Naba newspaper, according to the SITE Intelligence Group that tracks the online activities of extremist organizations.
The newspaper did not name the attacker.
Still, investigators believe Saipov most likely acted alone when he planned and carried out Tuesday’s carnage that also wounded 12, although he appears to have been heavily influenced by the group’s ideology and methods.
The Islamic State has repeatedly urged its followers to use vehicles in terrorist attacks. And authorities said Saipov meticulously planned the assault and left multiple notes proclaiming that the “Islamic State would endure forever.” Scores of Islamic State propaganda videos were found on his phones.
Saipov is being held without bail. He did not enter a plea to terror charges. He was shot by police immediately after the attack but is expected to survive.
Saipov told investigators after his capture that he “felt good” about what he had done, even asking to hang an Islamic State flag in his hospital room. President Trump took note on Twitter, repeatedly proclaiming Saipov should receive the death penalty.
Legal experts say that Trump’s remarks may make Saipov’s successful prosecution more difficult because they could influence any potential jury.
Trump also suggested Saipov be imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, but later tweeted that “there is also something appropriate about keeping him in the home of the horrible crime he committed. Should move fast.”
On Friday, Trump tweeted that the Islamic State “just claimed the Degenerate Animal who killed, and so badly wounded, the wonderful people on the West Side, was ‘their soldier.’ He added: “Based on that, the Military has hit ISIS ‘much harder’ over the last two days. They will pay a big price for every attack on us!”
It was not clear if Trump was referring to a specific military operation. In recent months, the Islamic State has lost large chunks of territory it captured in Iraq and Syria. Many of its fighters are now switching theaters and resurfacing in African countries.
Saipov immigrated to the U.S. from Uzbekistan in 2010 under a State Department lottery visa program that encourages applicants from countries with relatively few immigrants to the U.S. The program has drawn Trump’s ire and he wants to end it.
Neighbors in the U.S. and Uzbekistan have described Saipov as calm, quiet and mysterious. He is married with three children. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saipov was “radicalized domestically,” a scenario investigators are still probing.
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