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  1. ITV Report

New York attack: Suspect appears in court charged with terror offences

  • Video report by ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore

The man suspected of carrying out the deadly New York attack which left eight people dead and 12 injured has appeared in court charged with terror offences.

On Wednesday evening Sayfullo Saipov appeared in court to face charges of providing material support to a terrorist group and violence and destruction of a motor vehicle.

The 29-year-old, who was shot by a police officer following the attack, was taken into court in a wheelchair and with his feet shackled.

Saipov's lawyer David Patton said he hoped "everyone lets the judicial process play out."

"I promise you that how we treat Saipov in this judicial process will say a lot more about us than it will say about him," he added.

President Donald Trump later tweeted that Saipov should get the "death penalty."

The attack saw a rental truck driven into pedestrians and cyclists at "quite a high speed" on a bike path near the World Trade Centre on Tuesday.

The truck travelled across up to 20 blocks before it crashed into a school bus at shortly after 3pm local time (7pm GMT).

Authorities have said they believed the attacker was working alone, was not part of a wider plot, and had pledged allegiance to so-called Islamic State.

Officials said Saipov watched Islamic State videos on his mobile phone and picked Halloween for the attack because he knew the streets would be busy.

When questioned, Saipov said he had been inspired by Islamic State videos and began plotting an attack about a year ago. He decided to use a truck about two months ago, authorities said.

Afterwards, as he lay injured in hospital, he asked to display the IS flag in his room and "stated that he felt good about what he had done," prosecutors said in court papers.

Five Argentinian friends who were celebrating a 30 year anniversary of their graduation, a Belgian and two Americans were among the victims of the city's deadliest terror attack since 9/11.

The suspect has been identified as Sayfullo Saipov. Credit: St. Charles, Missouri, Corrections Department

Earlier on Wednesday, Donald Trump said he would "immediately" ask Congress to end the Diversity Visa Lottery Program which he says was used by the 29-year-old suspect to come to the US from Uzbekistan in 2010.

Branding the attacker an "animal", the US President vowed to take "all necessary steps to protect our people", including ending the Diversity Visa Lottery Program which he called "not good".

The US Department of Homeland Security confirmed on Wednesday that Saipov moved to the US in 2010 under the scheme which gives 50,000 visas annually to residents of countries with few immigrants to the US.

Mr Trump also vowed to stop chain migration - where one person migrates to a new country and then they are followed by others - which he said could be achieved through the diversity visa scheme.

Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat who was a member of the House of Representatives at the time and proposed the scheme which was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, said in a statement on Wednesday that he has "always believed and continue to believe that immigration is good for America".

Mr Schumer continued that Mr Trump is "politicising and dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of national tragedy".

Eight people were killed in Tuesday's New York terror attack. Credit: AP

The President has also ordered the Department of Homeland Security to "step up" vetting measures and said the country needed to "stop being politically correct".

He continued that he would consider sending Saipov to Guanatamo Bay.

Speaking on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the White House said the Trump administration considered the attack suspect to be an "enemy combatant".

Saipov was shot by Ryan Nash, an New York Police Department (NYPD) police officer after jumping out of the vehicle on the path on West Street in Lower Manhattan.

Saipov remains in hospital and under arrest after undergoing surgery for his wounds, but has not yet been charged.

At a news conference on Wednesday, 28-year-old Nash was praised as "heroic" and "humble" by authorities.

The truck used in the attack crashed into a school bus. Credit: AP

Police said the attacker was carrying what turned out to be two fake handguns - a pellet gun and a paintball gun - and had shouted "Allahu Akbar" before being shot and detained.

Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, John Miller, NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence, said Saipov appeared to have been planning the attack for weeks and that notes found at the scene claimed it was carried out for so-called Islamic State.

Mr Miller continued that the notes were handwritten in Arabic and said essentially that so-called "Islamic State would endure forever".

So far the terror organisation has not yet claimed to be behind the attack.

Saipov, who had a Florida driving licence but may have been living in New Jersey after entering the US in March 2010, was taken to hospital and is in police custody. He is expected to live.

Damaged bicycles strewn on the cycle path near the World Trade Centre. Credit: AP

In response to Mr Trump's comments calling the US to "get much tougher" on immigration, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, along with the city's mayor, called for "unity" in the wake of the attack, "where the focus is on solving the crime, moving forward together".

Remarking on tweets put out by Mr Trump in which he called for an end to the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, Mr Cuomo said he did not believe they were "helpful".

On Tuesday, the White House released a statement on the "cowardly attack" in which Mr Trump pledged to provide "full support to the New York City Police Department, including through a joint investigation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation."

"I will continue to follow developments closely," he said.

The suspect was filmed running across the street with a fake gun in each hand. Credit: YouTube/Tawhid Kabir via AP

Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, New York mayor Bill de Blasio said the attack was "an effort to break our spirit but it failed".

He continued: "New Yorkers are strong, New Yorkers are resilient and our spirit will never be moved by an act of violence and an act meant to intimidate us."

He added that the victims from other countries who died in the attack "will be forever New Yorkers".

The spire of One World Trade Center was illuminated in red, white and blue. Credit: AP

Prime Minister Theresa May said she was "appalled" at the attack, adding "together we will defeat the evil of terrorism".

Officials confirmed that Sunday's New York Marathon - which will see 51,000 runners take to the city's streets and 2.5 million spectators cheer them on - will go ahead, but with increased security.