(UPI) — The man accused of killing eight people in New York City’s deadliest terror attack since Sept. 11, 2001, now faces federal terrorism offenses — in addition to state murder charges.
Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, a 29-year-old Uzbekistan native, was charged with providing material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization and violence and destruction of motor vehicles.
The federal level charges, laid out in FBI court documents Wednesday, carry a potential death sentence — although Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon Kim has not yet said whether his office will seek to have Saipov executed.
President Donald Trump, however, said he’s clear on the issue.
“He killed 8 people, badly injured 12,” Trump said on Twitter. “SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!”
The president also noted Sapiov’s purported mood in his hospital room, which has been described as “happy” and “accomplished.” It’s been reported that he requested an Islamic State flag.
Saipov continues to recover after being shot in the abdomen by New York City police officer, moments after he ran a rented pickup truck into bicyclists and pedestrians near the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan Tuesday.
Authorities who have been investigating Sapiov’s motives said he must have planned the attack for several months and followed “almost to a T” instructions the terrorist organization put out. Officials said a note pledging allegiance to the terror group, also known by the acronym ISIS, was found near Saipov’s pickup truck.
“After he came to the United States is when he started to become informed about ISIS and radical Islamic tactics,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told CNN.
“ISIS has gotten it down to a simple formula that they can put on the Internet and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to rent a car, rent a truck. But they are cowards and they are depraved.”
Saipov’s cellphone also included up to 90 videos and 4,000 images related to Islamic State propaganda, CNN reported.
Investigators continue to focus efforts on finding potential terrorist connections Sapiov might have.
“What we are looking for is how has he touched the subjects of other investigations,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Counterterrorism John Miller said. “It appears he will have some connectivity to individuals who were the subjects of investigations though he himself was not.”
Authorities said Sapiov rented the truck in New Jersey on Tuesday, drove into New York City and barreled into people on Houston Street before running into the back of a school bus.
The eight victims killed in Tuesday’s terrorist attack in New York City include a group of five friends from Argentina, who were visiting to commemorate their 30-year high school reunion, and two Americans.
Darren Drake, 32, of New Jersey, was killed while riding his bike along the Hudson River, reported NJ.com. Nicholas Francis Cleves, 24, the youngest victim in the attack, grew up in New York’s Greenwich Village and had worked as a computer programmer.
The five from Argentina were well-known businessmen and architects in their hometown of Rosario, reported The Guardian. They were with three other friends who survived the attack.
Ann-Laure Decadt, 31, from Belgium, was visiting with two sisters and her mother when she was killed.
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