Suspect charged after New York City pipe bomb attack

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
News coverage: Explosion at Port Authority Bus Terminal in NYC
News coverage: Explosion at Port Authority Bus Terminal in NYCJim Dolan reports from outside the Port Authority.

MIDTOWN, Manhattan -- The suspect in Monday's attempted suicide bombing in Manhattan is now facing state charges.

Akayed Ullah, 27, is charged with criminal possession of a weapon, support act of terrorism, and making a terroristic threat.

He is also expected to face federal terrorism charges.

Commuters were returning to the Port Authority Bus Terminal Tuesday morning as new details were being revealed about the suspect's motives.

Crews cleared away plywood that blocked the passageway where chaos broke out Monday morning after an explosion under the terminal that left five people with minor injuries.

Investigators say the suspect detonated a crudely-made pipe bomb, sending commuters running from the scene.

The pipe bomb affixed to the suspect with Velcro straps detonated at about 7:20 a.m. Monday in the passageway between subway lines that runs a full city block under 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.

Sources say the device was built using a 12-inch long pipe, black powder rigged with a 9 volt battery and a Christmas lights wire, and filled with nails. It did not fully shatter.

Ullah told investigators he was radicalized while reading ISIS propaganda online.

"No law enforcement agencies had any information on him, he decides to make his own device," said former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly.

Terrorism experts say the location he chose for his attack is peculiar. But Ullah told investigators he picked the passageway because of its Christmas-themed posters.

He said he was inspired to act in retaliation for US airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria and around the world.

"New York has seen in many quarters, certainly in ISIS quarters, as being the capital of the world," said Kelly. "So you're going to make a statement in New York that's going to reverberate around the world."

Governor Andrew Cuomo said that while Ullah intentionally detonated the device, the pipe did not fully shatter so it did not have the desired effect. The governor also said Ullah signaled to police he learned to make the device from online instructions and his motive was he was "angry."

"Anyone can go on the internet and download garbage and vileness on how to put together an amateur-level explosive device," Governor Cuomo said.

During a series of interviews Monday afternoon. Governor Cuomo also proposed that internet providers should consider their responsibility when they know a user is downloading information on how to hurt people.

"It's a question we will have to deal with," he said.

Ullah, whose address is in Brooklyn, is from Bangladesh and has been in the United States for seven years. He came to the U.S. on an F-4 visa, a preferential visa available for those with family in the U.S. who are citizens or permanent residents, and officials believe he made the bomb in his apartment in an attack he planned for about a year.

Authorities said he was speaking with investigators from his hospital bed and that he made statements indicating he acted in solidarity with ISIS, although he appears self radicalized with no actual ties to the group.

Authorities used his MetroCard to track his movements. They say he boarded the F train at the 18th Avenue station in Borough Park at 6:25 a.m. and took to the Jay Street station in Downtown Brooklyn, where he switched to the A for the ride to the Port Authority.

The crudely made homemade device he carried with him on that subway ride included Christmas tree lights -- recommended on the Internet as detonators for homemade bombs. But this pipe bomb was not packed tightly enough and failed to detonate, only blowing the ends of the pipe.

Because it was strapped to Ullah, the assumption is that he had been prepared to die a suicide bomber. There were nails and other bits stuffed into the pipe, and sources said it had the ability to impose more injuries than it did. But a 6-inch piece was discovered fully intact.

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Ullah currently works as an electrician but has worked as a taxi driver in the past.

"This was an attempted terrorist attack," Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference. "Thank God the perpetrator did not achieve his ultimate goals."

It was the first bomb blast in the subway in more than two decades. The last bomb to go off in the subway system was believed to be in December 1994, when an explosive made from mayonnaise jars and batteries wounded 48 people in a car in lower Manhattan.


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