An attempted bombing at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City failed, after an explosion injured the bomber and caused minor injuries to three others.
The bomber identified as 27-year old Akayed Ullah was taken into custody after the explosion. Ullah is a Bangladeshi national who has lived in the U.S. for seven years. The blast took place in an underground passageway at the Port Authority subway station, at 42nd Street between 7th and 8th avenues.
Ullah has been charged with criminal possession of a weapon, supporting an act of terrorism and making a terroristic threat. Ullah is also facing five federal charges, including providing material support to a terrorist group and use of a weapon of mass destruction.
Ullah entered the station, wearing a low-tech improvised explosive device (IED) that was attached to him with Velcro and zip ties. Ullah told investigators that he was inspired by the Islamic State (IS) to carry out the attack and said he carried it out in part because of the U.S. policies in the Middle East. Ullah said his goal of the attack was to terrorize as many people as possible. Ullah’s support for jihadist groups appears to have began as far back as 2014, viewing pro-IS materials online and began researching how to build explosives a year ago.
Ullah attended the Masjid Nur Al-Islam mosque, known to have many terrorist links and used to be funded by the Saudi Arabian government. Among the members, the son of a former imam at the mosque, Adnan Gulshair el-Shukrijumah, became a senior member of al Qaeda and another member, Abdul Rasheed, was convicted for plotting to blow up the United Nations (U.N.) building and the Holland Tunnel.
Ullah’s brother also reportedly attends a mosque with a history of terrorist associations. Ahsan Ullah was reportedly an attendee of Masjid al-Salam, the same mosque where the infamous blind sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman used to preach. Rahman is considered the mastermind behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Abdel Rahman died in February of this year.
Akayed Ullah immigrated seven years ago as the member of a family already living in New York City under chain immigration. President Trump’s immigration policy calls for an end to chain migration and White House officials claims that if Trump’s policy had been in place, then that attacker would not have been allowed to come in the country.
Currently, no group has taken responsibility for the attack. The blast comes amid propaganda from IS to attack during the Christmas season in New York and across Europe. Terrorists using encrypted communication channels have been sharing posters of image threatening an attack on New York, London, and Paris at Christmas time.
This is the second suspected terrorist attack in New York City in the past three months. The incident comes after a truck driver deliberately drove down a bike path in lower Manhattan on October 31st, killing eight people and wounding a dozen others. The driver, Sayfullo Saipov, was taken into custody and told authorities he carried out the attack in the name of the Islamic State. Two days after the attack, IS declared that the attacker was a soldier of the caliphate.
After most recent attack, Trump called for Congress to revise the country’s chain migration policy. In October, Trump proposed an immigration reform, focused on border security, interior enforcement, and the creation of a merit-based system. This latest attack may likely bring immigration reform back to the attention of Congress, but with disagreements on Trump’s proposed reform, it’s uncertain if any reform will be passed soon.