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Bangladeshi-origin man in custody after ‘attempted terrorist attack’ in New York

The New York suspect wore a low-tech device, described as “based on a pipe bomb”, strapped to his body with a combination of velcro and zip ties.

world Updated: Dec 11, 2017 23:07 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
New York terror,Akayed Ullah,New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
A police officer stands guard outside the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal after reports of an explosion in New York City.(REUTERS)

A Bangladeshi-origin man inspired by the Islamic State exploded a “low-tech device” in an underground station near Times Square in New York City on Monday, injuring himself and four others in an “attempted terrorist attack”.

The attack could have been catastrophic given the crowds of commuters passing through at the time.

Law enforcement officials told the Associated Press that Akayed Ullah, 27, was “inspired by the Islamic State” but apparently had no direct contact with the terrorist group.

Akayed Ullah was an immigrant who came to the United States from Bangladesh seven years ago. He lived in Brooklyn.

The suspect was in hospital in a serious condition with burn injuries on his hands and abdomen and lacerations after being detained.

Four persons suffered minor injuries, official said.

The suspect wore the device, described as “based on a pipe bomb”, strapped to his body with a combination of velcro and zip ties. He triggered it while walking through an underground tunnel with other commuters, which was captured live by a CCTV camera.

The suspect “did make a statement” before setting off the device, New York Police chief James P O’Neill told reporters when asked if he had links to the Islamic State, but refused to divulge more. No other details were given of the suspect.

The police have said he acted alone, but investigations will be conducted of his residence and acquaintances as is the drill in such cases to ascertain if he had received help from a network of supporters or the Islamic State, which has not claimed credit for the incident as it had for the Manhattan attack on October 31.

“When we hear of an attack in the subways, it’s incredibly unsettling,” New York City mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters at a news conference. “And let’s also be clear, this was an attempted terrorist attack. Thank God the perpetrator did not achieve his ultimate goals.”

New York governor Andrew Cuomo said the bomb used was an “effectively low-tech” device.

The explosion occurred at 7:20 am in the underground tunnel on 42nd Street between 7th and 8th avenues, near the Times Square subway station and the Port Authority Bus Terminal, which is America’s largest bus station handling an estimated 230,000 commuters daily.

The incident, which was described by O’Neill as “terror-related”, came just weeks after a man drove his pick-up truck through a busy Manhattan street killing eight in the worst terrorist attack in the city since September 11, 2001, and sent the city into a practiced state of heightened security.

“When you hear about a bomb in the subway station, it is in many ways one of our worst nightmares,” Cuomo said. “The reality turns out to be better than the initial expectation and fear.”

President Donald Trump was briefed about the incident, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has said.

New York City has been a target of multiple terrorists attacks and attempts starting the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993; the worst of them was the 9/11 attacks. There have been 26 more attempts and plots that were stopped, including several attempts to attack the iconic Times Square.

First Published: Dec 11, 2017 22:21 IST