Trump says New York attacker should get death penalty

Washington (AFP) - President Donald Trump appeared to backtrack Thursday on the idea of sending the New York truck attacker to the US prison for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay.

"Would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the Federal system," Trump wrote in a blast of early morning tweets.

Trump added: "There is also something appropriate about keeping him in the home of the horrible crime he committed. Should move fast. DEATH PENALTY!"

Tuesday's attack with a rented truck on a bike path in New York City left eight dead and 12 wounded.

Sayfullo Saipov, the Uzbek immigrant behind New York's worst attack in 16 years, confessed to acting in the name of the Islamic State group and said he "felt good" about the killings, having planned an assault for a year, investigators said Wednesday.

Trump first raised the idea of sending him to Guantanamo on Wednesday, saying he would consider it, and late that night wrote on Twitter that the attacker "SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!"

Since the first inmates arrived at Guantanamo in 2002, only eight have been convicted in the problem-plagued military commissions that have been established there, according to Human Rights Watch. But three of those convictions were overturned and another three have been partially invalidated.

Only seven of the military prison's 41 remaining inmates have been formally charged, and they are still years from trial.