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Federal Terrorism Charges Filed Against NYC Subway Bombing Suspect Akayed Ullah

The U.S. Attorney's Office in southern New York has filed federal terrorism charges against Akayed Ullah, the 27-year-old man who police say attempted to carry out a suicide bombing in a pedestrian tunnel near the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan on Monday.

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission released this photo of Akayed Ullah on Monday. The New York subway bombing suspect once held a for-hire vehicle license in the city.
/ NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission
NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission
The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission released this photo of Akayed Ullah on Monday. The New York subway bombing suspect once held a for-hire vehicle license in the city.

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said Ullah "came to kill, to maim, and to destroy" as thousands of New Yorkers were using the transit system to get to work and go about their lives. Ullah acted "in support of a vicious cause," Kim said.

Ullah was taken into custody — and to the hospital — after he suffered burns to his hands and abdomen in a subway station tunnel near Times Square during the Monday morning rush hour. Police say he was wearing an improvised explosive device based on a pipe bomb. Three people who were near the explosion suffered minor injuries.

Ullah had been inspired and radicalized by the ISIS extremist group, Kim said in announcing charges against him on Tuesday.

Shortly before the morning attack, prosecutors say in the charging document, Ullah posted an update to his Facebook account on Monday that stated, "Trump you failed to protect your nation."

Ullah faces five charges, ranging from providing material support to a terrorist group to using a weapon of mass destruction.

Ullah "admitted that he began researching how to build bombs about a year ago," had planned the attack for weeks and had built the bomb a week before his attack, Kim said. The prosecutor added that Ullah chose the subway as his target in an effort to maximize the human casualties. The bomb had been filled with metal screws and attached to his body with zip ties, the authorities say.

The criminal complaint against Ullah includes a snapshot from surveillance video of the scene of the bombing immediately before the attack, highlighting Ullah's position in the crowded corridor.

A search of Ullah's Brooklyn apartment revealed pipes, wires and other materials that suggest the bomb was made there, Kim said.

Kim said Ullah had also left a handwritten note that said, "O America, die in your rage."

The suspect had become radicalized through "pro-ISIS materials online" at least as far back as 2014, according to court documents filed by Kim's office.

Ullah remains in the hospital; he will appear before a judge remotely — likely through a video conference, Kim said.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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