Graham praises Trump for ‘understanding’ U.S. is in ‘religious war’ after Manhattan attack

He also said he hoped that terror suspects were denied their Miranda rights.

Police work near a damaged Home Depot truck Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, after a motorist drove onto a bike path Tuesday near the World Trade Center memorial, striking and killing several people, in New York. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Police work near a damaged Home Depot truck Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, after a motorist drove onto a bike path Tuesday near the World Trade Center memorial, striking and killing several people, in New York. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) used the New York City truck attack as a chance to double-down on his belief that the United States is currently in the midst of a religious war — and praised Trump for understanding that such suspects needed to be tried without their Miranda rights.

“The one thing I like about President Trump is that he understands we are fighting a religious war,” Graham told Fox News Tuesday night. “We are fighting people who are compelled by their religious views to kill us all. They kill fellow Muslims who don’t agree with their view of Islam, they kill Christians and vegetarians, libertarians, you name it. We are in a war.” 

Graham then added that, because the country is at war, suspects shouldn’t be read their rights under criminal procedure, but should instead be tried under military law as enemy combatants.

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“The last thing I want [the NYC attack suspect] to hear tonight is ‘You have a right to a lawyer.’ The last thing he should hear is his Miranda rights,” Graham said. “He can be held by our intelligence community, as long as necessary to find out — did he act alone or was he part of a bigger plot?”

Eight people were killed and 11 injured on Tuesday when a man drove a rented pick-up truck down a crowded bike path in lower Manhattan, then stepped out brandishing imitation firearms. The suspect, 29-year-old Uzbek immigrant Sayfullo Saipov — who moved to the United States in 2010 and had reportedly lived in various places, including Florida — was shot by a police officer at the scene and taken to a hospital for treatment. Authorities said they were treating the incident as a terrorist attack.

In the wake of the attack, President Trump tried to claim that New York Sen. Chuck Schumer was partly to blame for his support of a “Diversity Visa Lottery Program”, and called for that green card lottery system, which Saipov allegedly used to immigrate to the United States, to be scrapped. However, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the suspect appeared to be a self-radicalized “lone wolf”, and there was no evidence he had been part of a wider network.

Saipov’s alleged self-radicalization follows a familiar pattern, both in Europe and the United States. The San Bernardino attackers and Boston Marathon bombers were both radicalized domestically. In Europe, there has been a steady trickle of self-radicalized “lone wolves” carrying out attacks, such as the Manchester bombing in May, the Barcelona attack in August, and multiple attempted assaults on French civilians and police over the course of the year. While Trump’s policies may look like tough talk to his base, they’re unlikely to stop alienated young men being radicalized over the internet.

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Both Trump and Graham also ignore a key, and often misunderstood aspect of many of the incidents over the last few years, which is that many of the attackers have only a basic understanding of — or interest in — the nuances of the Islamic religion. As Oliver Roy writes in The Guardian,

The typical radical is a young, second-generation immigrant or convert, very often involved in episodes of petty crime, with practically no religious education, but having a rapid and recent trajectory of conversion/reconversion, more often in the framework of a group of friends or over the internet than in the context of a mosque.

Instead of actually analyzing what continues to cause these lone wolf attacks, Graham and Trump are simply rolling out tried-and-true Republican talking points which may sound tough, but make only a limited impact.