A would-be suicide bomber attempted detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) in New York City early this morning. The man, identified as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah, failed to kill any of the passersby, but did wound several people in the failed bombing. Mayor Bill de Blasio quickly described the incident as an “attempted terrorist attack.”
Ullah is originally from Bangladesh, but has lived in the US for several years. Ullah lived in Brooklyn and reportedly worked as a driver. The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission released a photo of Ullah, which was first published by Reuters. The picture can be seen on the right.
Citing “law enforcement officials,” NBC News reported that Ullah “did it in the name of ISIS to avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world.” Similarly, the Washington Post reported that Ullah told officials he was “inspired by ISIS.” The New York Times added that he “chose the location because of its Christmas-themed posters.”
Of course, Ullah’s alleged inspiration is not surprising, as a string of attacks in the West have been committed by terrorists who were inspired, guided or directed by the Islamic State. The investigation into the failed bombing is still early, however, and officials will have to determine the extent of Ullah’s online contacts and verify other key details.
New York Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill provided the press with a brief update on the attack, saying that Ullah detonated his IED at “approximately” 7:20 am “in a below ground walkway” that connects the Port Authority bus terminal to the subway in Times Square.
NYPD units quickly responded to reports of an explosion and “found an injured 27-year-old male [Ullah] with burns and wounds to his body,” according to O’Neill. The investigation indicates that he “was wearing an improvised explosive device” and “intentionally detonated” it. “Three other people in the immediate area also sustained minor injuries,” O’Neill said. Ullah was taken into custody and then transported to Bellevue Hospital for treatment.
Jihadists have repeatedly targeted New York City since the 9/11 hijackings. Some of the plots have been aimed at the city’s transit system and Times Square.
In 2009, authorities foiled an al Qaeda plot against commuter trains in the metropolitan area.
In Sept. 2016, another jihadist detonated IEDs in New Jersey and the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. No one was killed in the bombings, but the explosion in Chelsea was powerful enough to crumple a dumpster and damage nearby buildings. The terrorist, Ahmad Khan Rahami, cited both al Qaeda and Islamic State figures in his notebook. The journal contains clear references to Osama bin Laden, Anwar al Awlaki (an ideologue who was an Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader) and Abu Muhammad al Adnani (the Islamic State’s first spokesman).
On Oct. 31, an Uzbek immigrant named Sayfullo Saipov drove a rented truck into pedestrians in lower Manhattan, killing eight people. Saipov was also inspired to act by the Islamic State.