President Donald Trump claimed Friday morning that the United States military is hitting ISIS “much harder” after an alleged ISIS-inspired attacker drove a truck down a bike lane in New York, killing eight, though he didn’t provide any evidence.
Trump, in a series of tweets ahead of his five-country, 12-day trip to Asia, labeled the accused attacker, 29-year-old Uzbek national Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, a “Degenerate Animal.”
“ISIS just claimed the Degenerate Animal who killed, and so badly wounded, the wonderful people on the West Side, was ‘their soldier,'” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Based on that, the Military has hit ISIS ‘much harder’ over the last two days. They will pay a big price for every attack on us!”
Trump did not explain the nature of what he said was the increased military action.
He doubled down on those comments while speaking to reporters at the White House Friday morning, saying his administration will hit ISIS “10 times harder” every time ISIS attacks the United States. He said the military action “took place yesterday” but did not provide further explanation.
It was not immediately clear if any missions were conducted specifically as a result of this week’s terror attack. Targets are typically struck because they are planned or suddenly pop up, so it’s unlikely that the New York incident would have altered existing military planning. In some cases, airstrikes have been down due to weather and a lack of ISIS targets as the terror group retreats from its strongholds in the Middle East.
Asked about Trump’s claim, Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway would only say the US is continuing to “strike ISIS hard and often, along with al Qaeda and other affiliated or like-minded violent extremist organizations wherever they are globally.” He mentioned several countries in which the US is conducting these efforts, including Yemen, the Philippines and Niger, where four US service members were killed in an ISIS-linked attack last month.
According to data from the United States Central Command, the US-led coalition launched 11 airstrikes on November 1 and 13 strikes on November 2 against ISIS terrorists in Syria and Iraq.
Those numbers are consistent with the airstrikes launched against ISIS before the attack. According to CENTCOM, coalition military forces conducted 10 strikes on October 26, eight strikes on October 27, eight strikes on October 30 and 13 strikes on October 31.
ISIS claimed some responsibility Thursday for the attack, labeling Saipov a “Soldier of the Caliphate” in the group’s weekly newspaper, al-Naba. ISIS did not provide any credible evidence that it had knowledge of the attack before it happened or that ISIS was involved in planning, and the article did not name the attacker.