Donald Trump to step up “extreme vetting” after eight killed in New York attack

Caitlin Logan

Manhattan truck attack being investigated as terrorist incident

FOLLOWING AN ATTACK by a man using a pick-up truck in Manhattan on Tuesday (31 October), which killed eight people and injured a dozen more, US President Donald Trump has vowed to step up the “extreme vetting” of people entering the United States.

The victims killed in the attack include five Argentinean citizens and one Belgian citizen.

The suspect, who was shot by a New York police officer and detained after leaving the vehicle, has been identified as 29-year-old Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, who moved to the US from Uzbekistan in 2010.

Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday to respond to the attack, saying: “I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!”

Trump earlier tweeted his condolences to the victims and families, and said: “We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!”

Trump’s election platform was strongly focussed on cracking down on illegal immigration, which he frequently linked to the threat of terrorism.

The Trump administration has attempted since his inauguration in January to enforce his promise of a travel ban which would prevent people travelling to the United States from six Muslim majority countries – Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen. The ban has suffered numerous legal setbacks, initially being ruled as unconstitutional by a series of federal courts.

The ban’s third iteration, which would have added Chad, North Korea and Venezuela to the list of banned countries and extended the ban’s time limit indefinitely, was blocked by a Hawaii federal judge one day before it was to take effect on October 18.

Travel from Uzbekistan, from where the perpetrator of Tuesday’s attack originated, would not be affected by the proposed ban.

A senior law enforcement officer advised CNN that a note was found in the truck was stated that the attack had been carried out in the name of ISIS.

Officials reported that the suspect drove a rented truck down onto the pavement and down a cycle path for several blocks, before crashing into a school bus and exiting the vehicle holding what was later identified as a pellet gun and a paintball gun.

Of 25 terror attacks in the United States linked to or inspired by Islamic extremist groups over the last 20 years, only two perpretrators were from countries which would be included in President Trump’s travel ban, and even then they may not have been banned from entering the United States due to their country of residence at the time. 

At least 12 of the perpetrators were born in the US or had been living in the US since early childhood, while several more were naturalised citizens. 

Trump also lent credence on Wednesday morning to an unconfirmed theory initially floated on extreme-right outlet Breitbart News that Saipov had entered the United States through the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, and laid blame on New York Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer for helping to create the program.

He tweeted: “The terrorist came into our country through what is called the “Diversity Visa Lottery Program,” a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based.”

New York Mayor Bill de Blasco responded to Tuesday’s attack: “This was an act of terror, and a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians, aimed at people going about their lives who had no idea what was about to hit them.

However, de Blasco said: “The bottom line is we are going to go about our business. We are not going to be deterred.”

Picture courtesy of Michael Vadon

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