Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Monday he would hold the man suspected of bombing a New York City subway corridor near Times Square as an enemy combatant.
“I want to hold this person as a suspected enemy combatant for a few days, let the intelligence community talk to him, gather as much intel as we can,” Graham told CNN. “Then we’ll make a decision where to charge him and how to charge him.”
“The first thing I want to do is treat this as an act of terror not a common crime, and the Obama administration criminalized the war, the Trump administration followed that same model,” he continued. “I hope that will break here.”
Police identified Akayed Ullah, 27, as a suspect in the terror attack that occurred Monday morning. Ullah was allegedly wearing a homemade explosive device that detonated as he walked through a tunnel linking the Eighth Avenue subway lines and Seventh Avenue subway lines.
Ullah is in custody and is being treated for severe burns and lacerations. Three other people sustained minor injuries, police said.
Reports indicated Ullah made statements supporting the Islamic State, which law enforcement didn’t deny during a press conference Monday. Officials said generically the suspect made “statements.”
Rita Katz, the director of SITE Intelligence, said no terrorist group has claimed responsibility for this morning’s attempted attack, but said pro-ISIS channels are “cheering the attack.”
1) No group has claimed responsibility for #NewYork #portauthorityexplosion as of yet, though it is being treated as terror-related. Pro-#ISIS channels cheering the attack pic.twitter.com/2Ad9yJPNny— Rita Katz (@Rita_Katz) December 11, 2017
She also said ISIS supporters, who are now inspired by this morning’s explosion, are issuing threats following President Trump’s decision last week to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The supporters are “threatening to make Americans ‘recognize explosives as the capital of your country,’” Katz tweeted.
3)In wake of @realDonaldTrump's recognition of #Jerusalem as #Israel's capital, #ISIS supporters still issuing threats, now inspired by #NewYork #portauthorityexplosion threatening to make Americans"recognize explosives as the capital of your country" over picture of Times Square pic.twitter.com/YpRZaOYVSg— Rita Katz (@Rita_Katz) December 11, 2017
Graham said he doesn’t want law enforcement to read Ullah his Miranda rights, and instead hopes they “keep him talking.”
“I don’t think you need to send him to Gitmo. You don’t need to try him in a military commission,” he said. “I’m not worried about that. I want to look at this as an intelligence-gathering opportunity, not solving a crime. Perry Mason is not needed to convict this guy.”
Graham is hoping that by holding Ullah as a suspected enemy combatant, law enforcement can learn how those who pledge allegiance to ISIS were radicalized and “what makes them tick.”
The South Carolina senator said last month the Trump administration missed the opportunity to do just that when it decided not to declare Sayfullo Saipov an enemy combatant.
Saipov is accused of driving a truck down a bike lane in Manhattan in October, killing eight. The government filed terrorism charges against him.