U.S. slaps terror charges on accused
Times Square bomber
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[December 13, 2017]
By Joseph Ax and Brendan Pierson
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors on
Tuesday brought federal charges against the suspect in Monday's
attempted suicide bombing in one of New York City's busiest commuter
hubs, accusing him of supporting a foreign terrorist organization.
Akayed Ullah, a 27-year-old Bangladeshi and self-described supporter of
the radical group Islamic State, was also charged in a criminal
complaint filed in U.S. district court in Manhattan with bombing a
public place, destruction of property by means of explosive and use of a
Ullah planned to "murder as many human beings as he could ... in support
of a vicious terrorist cause," acting U.S. attorney Joon Kim told a news
conference after filing the charges.
New York City police have said that Ullah set off a pipe bomb in an
underground corridor of the subway system that connects Times Square to
the Port Authority Bus Terminal at rush hour on Monday morning, injuring
himself and three others.
He told police interviewers after the blast, "I did it for the Islamic
State," according to court papers filed by federal prosecutors.
Ullah began the process of self-radicalization in 2014 when he started
viewing pro-Islamic State materials online and carried out his attack
because he was angry over U.S. policies in the Middle East, prosecutors
New York officials on Tuesday also filed state charges against Ullah, as
investigators in his home country questioned his wife.
Ullah was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, supporting an
act of terrorism, and making a terroristic threat under New York state
law, the New York City Police Department said.
The federal charges, which are expected to take precedence over the
state charges, carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Officials declined to disclose Ullah's condition at Bellevue Hospital
late on Tuesday. His first court appearance in the case could come as
soon as Wednesday and may be conducted by video conference with a judge,
a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office said.
On the morning of the attack, Ullah posted on his Facebook page, "Trump
you failed to protect your nation."
Ullah's passport, which was recovered from his home, had handwritten
notes, including one that read, "O AMERICA, DIE IN YOUR RAGE."
Investigators at the scene found a nine-volt battery inside Ullah's
pants pocket, as well as fragments from a metal pipe and the remnants of
what appeared to be a Christmas tree light bulb attached to wires.
Ullah told investigators that he built the bomb at his Brooklyn home one
week before the attack, filling the pipe with metal screws to maximize
damage. He chose a workday to target as many people as possible.
Investigators in Bangladesh were questioning Ullah's wife, according to
two officials who declined to be identified as they were not permitted
to publicly discuss the matter. They said the couple have a
A police official who took part in that interview, who declined to be
named as he was not authorized to speak publicly, said the wife told
investigators that Ullah had never prayed regularly before he moved to
the United States.
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Members of the Port Authority Police Counter Terrorism unit patrol
the subway corridor, at the New York Port Authority subway station
near the site of an attempted detonation the day before, during the
morning rush. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
New York City police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were
leading the investigation into Ullah in conjunction with other
agencies through the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and were asking the
public for any information about the suspect.
Investigators were poring through data on Ullah's electronic
devices, said a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of
Assistant FBI director in charge William Sweeney said there was so
far no indication that Ullah had previously attracted the attention
Ullah lived with his mother, sister and two brothers in Brooklyn and
was a green card holder, said Shameem Ahsan, consul general of
Bangladesh in New York.
U.S. President Donald Trump said again on Tuesday that the attack
emphasized the need for U.S. immigration reforms.
Monday's incident occurred less than two months after an Uzbek
immigrant killed eight people by speeding a rental truck down a New
York City bike path in an attack for which Islamic State claimed
“There have now been two terrorist attacks in New York City in
recent weeks carried out by foreign nationals here on green cards,"
Trump said. "The first attacker came through the visa lottery, the
second came through chain migration. We’re going to end both of
The U.S. Supreme Court last week allowed Trump's latest travel ban,
targeting people from six Muslim-majority countries, to go into full
effect even as legal challenges continued in lower courts.
The ban covers people from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and
Yemen seeking to enter the United States. Trump has said the travel
ban was needed to protect the United States from terrorism by
Bangladesh is not among the countries affected by the ban.
John Miller, the New York City Police Department's deputy
commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, said on Tuesday
that police would review the attempted suicide bombing and adjust
security plans for the upcoming New Year's Eve celebrations in Times
"This is the first time I believe that we have seen an individual
with a suicide bomb in mass transit and actually have that bomb
function. So we're going to take a hard look at it," Miller said in
(Additional reporting by Ruma Paul, Serajul Quadir, Max Lockie, Mark
Hosenball and Chris Kenning; Writing by Daniel Trotta and Nick
Zieminski; Editing by Scott Malone, Tom Brown, Toni Reinhold)
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