The man accused of setting off an explosive device on Monday morning at a major New York City transit hub, injuring himself and causing minor injuries to three bystanders, has been hit with federal terrorism charges, including providing material support to the so-called “Islamic State.”
According to a complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, Akayed Ullah, 27, told police he was inspired by ISIS to build a pipe bomb and carry out an attack.
Ullah has been charged with five counts, which include use of weapons of mass destruction, bombing a place of public use, destroying property by means of fire or explosion and using a destructive device in furtherance of a violent crime.
The device detonated at about 7:20 a.m. on Monday on an underground walkway near the Port Authority Bus Terminal on Manhattan’s west side.
At a news conference on Tuesday, Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim of the Southern District of New York said the pipe bomb was filled with metal screws and held together with wires and zip ties.
Ullah, a Brooklyn resident, told investigators at Bellevue Hospital, where he is being treated for injuries he suffered in the explosion, that he had been researching how to build bombs for more than a year and that he has been planning an attack for the last several weeks, Kim said.
The complaint does not state that Ullah has had direct contact with ISIS, but he told investigators that he carried out the attack because of U.S. policies with regard to the Middle East and that he began viewing ISIS’ online materials in 2014.
Ullah waived his Miranda rights both verbally and in writing, the complaint stated.
Kim said there will be a bedside presentment for Ullah, with a judge appearing via video conference, within the next few days.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shawn Crowley, Rebekah Donaleski and George Turner worked on the complaint.
“Because of who we are, how we live our lives and what we stand for, New York City consistently remains a prime target for terrorists,” Kim said at the conference.
Monday’s attack was the third to strike New York City in the last 16 months.
Aside from Ullah’s material support charge, the charges against Ullah resemble those brought last year against Ahmad Khan Rahimi, 29, who was convicted in October of planting pressure cooker bombs in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. One of the devices detonated, sending a Dumpster skyward and injuring 31.
Rahimi is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 18.
But Southern District prosecutors are taking a different approach on the case of Sayfullo Saipov, 29, who is accused of driving a truck down a bike path and pedestrian walkway in lower Manhattan, killing eight and injuring 12.
Saipov has also been charged with providing material support to ISIS, but the 22 counts against him include eight counts of murder in aid of racketeering, attempted murder in aid of racketeering and violence and destruction of motor vehicles. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.