A protester who tried to rush the stage at a Donald Trump campaign rally has ties to Islamic State and should be jailed, the US Republican presidential hopeful said yesterday.
Thomas Dimassimo, 22, was arrested for disorderly conduct and inducing panic after attempting to get past security staff.
The billionaire was visibly rattled by the incident, briefly ducking at the podium while the protester was dragged out of the rally at Dayton airport in Ohio by Secret Service bodyguards.
Trump quickly managed to compose himself, telling the crowd: “I was ready for him but it’s much easier if the cops do it, don’t we agree?”
A YouTube video, which claims to have been produced by IS, features footage of Dimassimo dragging and standing on a US flag at an anti-racism protest last year.
Trump accused him of being affiliated with the extremist group on Twitter and circulated the video after supporters shared it on social media.
He later told a rally in Kansas on Saturday: “The guy is playing all sorts of, let’s say, music you wouldn’t be liking, dragging an American flag along the sidewalk, making all sorts of gestures.
“He’s probably or possibly Isis related. He should be in jail. This is a guy who was looking to do harm.”
Currently in line for the rally. Currently never been more scared in my life
Before attending the Ohio rally Dimassimo, who goes by the Twitter name @Younglionking7, wrote about his plans to disrupt the event.
He tweeted: “Currently in line for the rally. Currently never been more scared in my life.”
After being released from custody later on Saturday, he aimed more abuse at Trump, tweeting “**** off” alongside a picture of him sticking his tongue out.
However, he denied suggestions on Twitter that he was carrying a knife as he tried to get on stage.
The incident came the day after thousands of protesters threatened to disrupt Trump’s campaign rally in Chicago, leading to its cancellation.
There have been a series of violent incidents at Trump rallies recently, between protesters and supporters of the controversial candidate.
The presidential election is on November 8, with Trump now favourite for the Republican nomination.
He has drawn fervent support and criticism for proposing that a wall should be built along the Mexican border with the US to keep out migrants.
He also suggested a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country.
Trump’s position as the Republican candidate is likely to be cemented following primaries in Florida, Ohio, Missouri and Illinois.