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Rediff.com  » News » Bangladeshi bomber arrested after attempted 'terrorist attack' in New York

Bangladeshi bomber arrested after attempted 'terrorist attack' in New York

Last updated on: December 12, 2017 08:44 IST

“Terrorists won’t win,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said after a blast at the Port Authority terminal in Manhattan during the morning rush hour on Monday, which injured four. 

IMAGE: Members of the New York Police Department walk by a subway entrance on 42nd Street following an attempted detonation during the morning rush hour in New York City. Photograph: Andrew Kelly/Reuters

An Islamic State-inspired Bangladeshi-origin man, wearing a homemade device, triggered a blast at a metro station in New York City during the morning rush hours, injuring four persons and causing chaos in one of the busiest commuter hubs in the metropolis, officials said.

 

Akayed Ullah, the 27-year-old suspected bomber, had wires and a pipe bomb strapped to his body. The device prematurely exploded between two subway platforms near Port Authority, which is America’s largest bus terminal, police said.

The suspect was taken into custody after the device partially exploded. The subway station was evacuated and Port Authority terminal was shut down.

Ullah was alone, the police said, adding that the explosion was recorded on surveillance video.

IMAGE: Members of the Port Authority Police Counter Terrorism Unit patrol the area outside the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal following an attempted detonation during the morning rush hour, in New York City. Photograph: Andrew Kelly/Reuters

No group has claimed responsibility for the explosion so far, though it was being treated as terror-related.

“This was an attempted terrorist attack. Thank God he did not achieve his goal,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters.

“At this point in time, all we know of is one individual who, thank God, was unsuccessful in his aims,” Blasio said.

“There are also no credible and specific threats against New York City at this time. But we will give you more information as the investigation unfolds,” he said.

“Our lives revolve around the subway. The choice of New York is always for a reason, because we are beacons of the world. We show that a society of many background and many faiths can work... The terrorists want to undermine that. They yearn to attack New York City,” he added.

IMAGE: Police officers stand outside the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal after reports of an explosion. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters 

A total of four injuries were reported at the scene of the explosion at Port Authority, the New York Police Department said, adding all injuries are non-life-threatening.

The suspect, who lived in Brooklyn, suffered serious burn injuries and is currently admitted at a hospital. He had arrived in the US some seven years ago from Bangladesh.

“Preliminary investigation at the scene indicates that this male was wearing an improvised low-tech explosive device attached to his body. He intentionally detonated that device,” Police Commissioner James O’Neil told reporters.

O’Neill told reporters the suspect is being questioned. But he refrained from giving any detailed information on the investigation.

“He did make statements, but we’re not going to talk about that right now,” he told reporters in response to a question.  

IMAGE: Police and fire crews block off the streets near the New York Port Authority after reports of an explosion. Photograph: Edward Tobin/Reuters 

Soon after the explosive device went off prematurely at a metro station in a busy New York transit place, the police found Ullah with wires attached to his body.

He had attached the pipe bomb to himself with a “combination of Velcro and zip ties”, O’Neill said.

He suffered burns to his hands and abdomen and was in a serious condition at Bellevue Hospital Center, New York Fire Department Commissioner Daniel A Nigro said.

US President Donald Trump was briefed on the New York explosion, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has joined the investigation.

IMAGE: Commuters exit the New York Port Authority in New York City after reports of the explosion. Photograph: Edward Tobin/Reuters

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that New Yorkers would not be disrupted by such an attempt.

“We are a target by many who would like to make a statement against freedom... Let’s go back to work we are not going to allow them to disrupt us,” he said.

“The reality is that we are a target by many who would like to make a statement against democracy, against freedom. We have statue of Liberty in our harbour and that make suspect an international target. We understand that,” he said.

Former New York Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton told MSNBC that the man was inspired by the Islamic State terror group and originally came from Bangladesh.

The attack is being investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which comprises of FBI and other federal, state and city investigating and law enforcement agencies. 

IMAGE: An armoured police truck occupies the street outside of the New York Port Authority. Photograph: Edward Tobin/Reuters 

The Bangladeshi Embassy in Washington condemned the incident.

“Government of Bangladesh is committed to its declared policy of ‘Zero Tolerance’ against terrorism, and condemns terrorism and violent extremism in all forms or manifestations anywhere in the world, including Monday morning’s incident in New York City,” the embassy said in a statement.

“A terrorist is a terrorist irrespective of his or her ethnicity or religion, and must be brought to justice,” said the embassy in statement.

Its officials were in “touch with officials” of the New York Police Department regarding his legal status and his origin in Bangladesh.

Earlier, the New York Police Department tweeted that it was responding to reports of an explosion of unknown origin at 42nd Street and 8th Ave, Manhattan.

“I was exiting the Port Authority and the National Guard was running towards something shouting ‘Go, Go, Go’,” commuter Keith Woodfin tweeted, according to New York Daily News.

Designer Chelsea LaSalle tweeted that she was “stuck in a running stampede at port authority bus terminal due to bomb scare. Cops EVERYWHERE.”

IMAGE: No group has claimed responsibility for the explosion so far. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters 

Security was enhanced in several major American cities after the explosion in the New York City.

“We are monitoring the incident that occurred in New York City this morning. At this time, there are no current threats to the District of Columbia. We ask all residents and visitors to remain vigilant,” said the Washington DC Police Department.

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M Nielsen spoke with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Police Department Commissioner James O’Neill regarding the details of the attempted terrorist attack in New York City.

“The Department of Homeland Security is taking appropriate action to protect our people and our country in the wake of today’s attempted terrorist attack in New York
City,” he said.

“We will continue to assist New York authorities with the response and investigation and we urge the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity,” he said, adding that the administration continues to adopt significant security measures to keep terrorists from entering the country and from recruiting within its borders.

“The enemy we face is persistent and adaptive. But they should know this: Americans will not be coerced by terrorism, and we will not allow it to become the new normal. We will fight back aggressively and bring terrorists to justice,” Nielsen said.

Trump says urgent need to fix ‘lax’ immigration

US President Donald Trump has asked Congress to enact immigration reforms to protect the American people, a day after the blast triggered near the metro station in New York City left four persons injured.

“The attempted mass murder attack in New York City -- the second terror attack in New York in the last two months -- once again highlights the urgent need for Congress to enact legislative reforms to protect the American people,” Trump said.

The suspect reportedly came to the US from Bangladesh some seven years ago on a family visa.

“First and foremost... America must fix its lax immigration system, which allows far too many dangerous, inadequately vetted people to access our country. The terror suspect entered our country through extended-family chain migration, which is incompatible with national security,” Trump said. 

He added that the suspect had entered the country through “extended-family chain migration,” a system the president is seeking to end that allows families to sponsor relatives to come to the United States.

Trump said his executive action to restrict the entry of certain nationals from eight countries, which the Supreme Court recently allowed to take effect, is just one step forward in “securing” the immigration system. 

“Congress must end chain migration,” he said, listing a slew of measures to improve and secure the immigration system.

“The terrible harm that this flawed system inflicts on America’s security and economy has long been clear. I am determined to improve our immigration system to put our country and our people first,” Trump said.

Trump said those convicted of engaging in acts of terror deserve the strongest penalty allowed by law, including the death penalty in appropriate cases. 

America should always stand firm against terrorism and extremism, ensuring that our great institutions can address all evil acts of terror, he said.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the attack underscored the need for Congress to work with the president on immigration reforms that enhance the national security and public safety.

“We must protect our borders, we must ensure that individuals entering our country are not coming to do harm to our people, and we must move to a merit-based system of immigration,” she said.     

-- Lalit K Jha/PTI 

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