Brooklyn-Based Bangladeshi Cab Driver Caused Rush-Hour Panic in Manhattan When His ‘Revenge’ Pipe Bomb Exploded Too Early
Ashley Collman and Associated Press, Daily Mail, December 11, 2017
A Bangladeshi national in his 20s has been taken into custody with serious injuries after a pipe bomb he was carrying malfunctioned and exploded prematurely inside a Midtown Manhattan subway station Monday morning.
It was the second time in two months that New York City was the target of a terrorist attack.
The explosion happened around 7:20am, in an underground tunnel linking the Port Authority Bus Terminal to Times Square. The underground tunnel is a major thoroughfare for workers during the morning rush hour.
The suspect, identified as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah, was walking east towards Times Square when a ‘low-tech’ explosive attached to his body with Velcro and zip ties partially exploded. Another five-inch metal pipe bomb was found on his person.
A photo from the scene shows Ullah crumpled up on the ground of the tunnel as police took him into custody. He was then rushed to Bellevue Hospital to be treated for serious burns and cuts to his abdomen and hands.
Three other people also reported to local hospitals for minor injuries like ringing in the ears and headaches.
Law enforcement sources who spoke to the New York Post says Ullah is speaking to investigators at the hospital, and says he carried out the attack in revenge for his people.
‘They’ve been bombing in my country and I wanted to do damage here,’ Ullah, who has lived in the U.S. for seven years, said, according to the sources. Ullah added that he made the bomb at the electrical company where he works.
It’s unclear what violence Ullah was referring to, since Bangladesh is one of the U.S.’s largest allies in southeast Asia. However, it is home to many Rohingya Muslims, refugees from Myanmar. Violence against the Rohingya in Myanmar has intensified in recent months.
There have been reports that Ullah — a former taxi driver — was inspired by ISIS.
Law enforcement officials told the Associated Press that Ullah was inspired by the group, but not in direct contact with them.
So far, officials believe that Ullah carried out the attack as a ‘lone wolf’.
Former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton told MSNBC’s Morning Joe that the suspect ‘supposedly was setting the device off in the name of ISIS’ and that it was ‘definitely a terrorist attack, definitely intended’.
At a morning press conference, current NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said that the suspect ‘did make statements’ but that they are not going to comment on them yet.
‘This was an attempted terror attack and thank God the perpetrator did not achieve his ultimate goals,’ Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
CNN reports that it appears the Subway was not the intended target of the pipe bomb, and that it may have went off prematurely.
They also learned that the device was homemade and could have caused catastrophic damage if it went off as intended.
Police had cordoned off the block of East 48th Street in Flatlands where the alleged terrorist had been living and the bomb squad were on the scene.
Alan Butrico, owner of Locksmith hardware store on Avenue N in Marine Park, told DailyMail.com that a Bangladeshi family lives at the home the police had cordoned off. He said he believed three men, a woman and a child lived there and that there had never been any problems with them other than that they occasionally blocked his driveway.
Ally Mohammed, who works in the deli across the street, said the family are from Bangladesh and described them as ‘very nice, hardworking people’. He said that the suspect’s mother came into his store and was very pleasant and that his father owned a grocery store in the area.
Mohammed said that he believed the suspect lived with his brother, sister-in-law and their child, of around four years old. He said that he believed the brother had finished college and had a job in the city.
He said he did not believe Ullah was married or had any children.
‘What he did has nothing to do with Islam, maybe he was brainwashed,’ Mohammed said
Kisslyn Joseph, 19, from Grenada, has been staying next door to the suspect’s home at her brother Kevin Alexander’s house.
She told DailyMail.com that she heard shouting from what appeared to be an argument on the phone inside the home on Sunday morning around 2am.
She said that the argument was in English but she was unable to hear what was being said.
Social worker Michael, 35, was commuting from New Jersey to Brooklyn when the chaos unfolded.
He said: ‘There were people running from various angles and screaming that someone had a gun. People were saying ‘just run, just go’. Everyone was looking around confused.
‘After a few minutes I think I heard another person say there was an explosion and that’s when people started to panic. There was a lot of chaotic shouting and screaming. I saw a guy spring past me and as people scattered the crowd began to hurry more and push through the doors.
‘There are escalators that lead outside and steps and people were running up to get outside. We are talking 50 or 60 people. People were running over each other at one point. It became like a domino effect as everyone tried to run through the doors.
‘We got out and I ran across the street to 41st. I could hear sirens going off and people were grabbing their phones and calling home. Everyone was quite panicked and shook up.’
He added: ‘It’s scary. I’m quite on edge now.’
Video from above the ‘Crossroads of the World’ showed lines of police and emergency vehicles, their lights flashing, lining the streets and no other vehicle traffic moving.
Everything around the Port Authority in the 42nd Street area was shut down while police investigated the bombing – a surreal scene of what would ordinarily be a bustling rush hour.
The attack also comes on the heels of a Muslim day of rage in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, last week where thousands of Muslims protested over President Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The decision — which breaks with decades of tradition in international policy — has drawn widespread criticism from Muslims and Christians around the world.
Previous presidents have refrained from such direct involvement in the Middle East’s historic conflict but Trump proudly waded in. Moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was a campaign promise which he now boasts about fulfilling.