The attacks in New York and New Jersey look set to dominate the presidential debate and both candidates quickly clashed in their reactions to events.
Donald Trump again targeted what he called lax immigration controls, blaming poor screening of immigrants.
At a rally in Florida the Republican candidate called on the authorities to get information from the suspected bomber “before it becomes no longer timely”.
He also regretted that Ahmad Khan Rahami would get “amazing hospitalisation” and medical care.
“There have been Islamic terrorist attacks in Minnesota and in New York City and in New Jersey. These attacks and many others were made possible because of our extremely open immigration system, which fails to properly vet and screen the individuals or families coming into our country,” Trump said. “We have seen how failures to screen who is entering the United States puts all of our citizens, everyone in this room, at danger.”
Once again someone we were told is ok turns out to be a terrorist who wants to destroy our country & its people- how did he get thru system?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2016
The Republican contender said his administration would enact policies that would solely admit immigrants “who love our country”, without giving details as to how this would be done. But, he added, “you can’t have vetting if you don’t look at ideology”.
Trump has called for “extreme” vetting that would include an assessment of whether potential immigrants share American values.
CNN has reported that the Afghan-born suspect had travelled several times to Afghanistan and Pakistan in recent years. The New York Times says no evidence has been found that Rahami had received military training overseas.
Hillary Clinton reacted to the weekend’s attacks by saying that they were a “sobering reminder that we need steady leadership in a dangerous world”.
The US Democratic presidential candidate accused her Republican rival of helping the co-called Islamic State gain more fighters.
Speaking in New York state, she quoted a former US intelligence director, alleging that militants from the so-called Islamic State were using Trump’s hyperbole as a recruiting tool.
“We know that a lot of the rhetoric we heard from Donald Trump has been seized on by terrorists, in particular, ISIS, because they are looking to make this into a war against Islam, rather than a war against Jihadists, violent terrorists, people who number in tens of thousands, not the tens of millions- they want to use that to recruit more fighters to their cause by turning it into a religious conflict,” Clinton said.
“No one has the right to immigrate to this country.” —Donald Trump during his rally in Florida today— Hillary for Ohio (@HillaryforOH) September 19, 2016
We disagree. https://t.co/9gS9q5vQS9
The renewed focus on terrorism in the electoral campaign comes as Clinton and Trump prepare for their first debate next Monday in New York.