WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump said on Monday that a bomb attack by a 27-year-old from Bangladesh on New York’s subway system underscored the "urgent need" for Congress to enact immigration reform.
Three people were slightly injured after the attacker’s pipe bomb exploded only partially, while the suspect was sent to a hospital with apparently severe burns and wounds on his torso and hands.
"First and foremost, as I have been saying since I first announced my candidacy for president, America must fix its lax immigration system, which allows far too many dangerous, inadequately vetted people to access our country," Trump said in a statement.
He added that the suspect, identified as Akayed Ullah, had entered the country through "extended-family chain migration," a system the president is seeking to end that allows families to sponsor relatives to come to the United States.
He also cited his controversial travel ban on the entry of nationals from eight countries -- six of which have Muslim majorities -- as "one step forward in securing our immigration system."
Other measures Trump said he hoped Congress would pass included "increasing the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, enhancing the arrest and detention authorities for immigration officers, and ending fraud and abuse in our immigration system."
Trump also reiterated his call for terror convicts to receive "the strongest penalty allowed by law, including the death penalty."
The bomb partially detonated
The blast took place in the subway station at the Port Authority bus terminal, not far from the city’s iconic Times Square, sparking commuter panic and travel disruptions.
A closed-circuit security video showed commuters scattering as the bomb exploded and one body -- that of the bomber -- on the ground after the smoke cleared.
Authorities attributed the minimal damage from the simple device attached to Ullah’s chest to a malfunction.
The explosion left him with several burns to his torso and hands, and he was sent to a hospital in "serious" condition.
The other three injured people suffered ringing in the ears, headaches and other minor complaints, and there was no significant damage to the subway structure.
"Fortunately for us, the bomb partially detonated," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said. "It did not fully have the effect that he was hoping for."
Cuomo said Ullah was not part of a "sophisticated network," but appeared to have been "influenced" by the Islamic State or other extremist groups. — AFP