A man charged with murdering eight people on a New York City bike path invoked "Allah" and defended the Islamic State group in court Friday, reports said.
Sayfullo Saipov, 30, raised his hand to speak out immediately after U.S. District Judge Vernon S. Broderick set an Oct. 7, 2019, date for the Uzbek immigrant's trial.
He said he cared about "Allah" and the holy war being waged by the Islamic State group.
"So the Islamic State is not fighting for land, like some say, or like some say, for oil. They have one purpose, and they're fighting to impose Sharia (Islamic law) on Earth," he said.
Prosecutors had been seeking an April 2019 trial date. Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Houle said the families of the dead and the dozens who were injured deserve a "prompt and firm trial date."
"The victims here are anxious now when that trial is going to be," she said. "The public deserves a speedy trial, and the surviving victims deserve to know when that trial is going to be."
Following his arrest, Saipov requested that the ISIS flag be displayed in his hospital room, the New York Daily News reported, citing court documents.
Saipov said the judgments made in the courtroom were "not important" to him because they were "not Allah's judgments," according to the New York Times.
Earlier, he had pleaded not guilty through his lawyer to the latest indictment in the Oct. 31 truck attack near the World Trade Center.
Saipov's Halloween day attack was the deadliest in New York City since Sept. 11, 2001.
A prosecutor said the Justice Department will decide by the end of the summer whether to seek the death penalty against Saipov, who lived in Paterson, N.J., before the attack.
Defense lawyers have said the government should accept a guilty plea and a sentence of life in prison without parole to provide victims' families and the public with closure.
David Patton, a lawyer for Saipov, said he would need extra time to make legal challenges to the charges if death is sought.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will ultimately decide whether to seek the death penalty for Saipov by September, according to the Daily News.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.