Sayfullo Saipov
Sayfullo Saipov, the suspect in the New York City truck attack is seen in this handout photo released November 1, 2017. St. Charles County Department of Corrections/REUTERS

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina wants Sayfullo Saipov, the suspect in Tuesday's terror attack in New York City, labeled as an enemy combatant. Graham blasted President Donald Trump Thursday for not yet making the official designation.

“I’m dumbfounded as to why the Trump Administration still follows the Obama playbook when it comes to dealing with terror suspects,” Graham said in a statement Thursday. “If there was ever a candidate to be held as an enemy combatant for intelligence gathering purposes, it is Sayfullo Saipov - a self-declared ‘Soldier of the Caliphate’.”

The full term Graham is referencing is an unlawful enemy combatant. This refers to fighters for a non-state actor, such as a terrorist group like ISIS, and was established by the Prisoner of War guidelines in the Geneva Convention of 1949. Lawful enemy combatants, in contrast, are people that are labeled and recognized as soldiers and fight for a country.

As it pertains to U.S. prisoners, the president can declare them unlawful enemy combatants, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. Unlawful enemy combatants have fewer rights than regular prisoners and can be tried in military tribunals or held indefinitely without trial, such as the prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. The designation would also allow Saipov to be interrogated without a lawyer.

Saipov’s alleged attack appears to be inspired by ISIS, although they had not yet taken responsibility for the attack. He was accused of killing at least eight and injuring at least 11 when he slammed his truck into pedestrians and cyclists on the West Side Highway bike path in New York City.

“If you show support for terrorism, commit an act of terrorism, and say you are a terrorist that should be enough to allow us to treat you as a terrorist," said Graham. "All the evidence points to the fact he should be characterized as an unlawful enemy combatant – not a common criminal. Mr. Saipov is an enemy combatant and should be held as such."

Saipov, 29, is a legal permanent resident of the U.S. and was hit with federal charges Wednesday. He was charged with one count of material support to a terrorist organization and one count of violence and destruction of a motor vehicle. Saipov immigrated to the U.S. from Uzbekistan through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, which Trump called to be ended.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that Trump considers Saipov an enemy combatant, but whether the administration will make that official remains to be seen. Trump himself appeared to waffle on whether or not he wants Saipov sent to Guantanamo Bay, but the president slammed the legal system Thursday and called for the death penalty for the suspect on Twitter.