Man in federal custody after alleged Times Square grenade plot, report says

TIMES SQUARE, Manhattan (WABC) -- A Queens man is in federal custody after he allegedly tried to buy guns and grenades in order to carry out a terror attack in Times Square.

Officials said 22-year-old Ashiqul Alam, of Jackson Heights, was intercepted by federal and local officials, and he posed no imminent threat, as police were monitering his activities.

Investigators said between August 2018 and now, Alam repeatedly expressed a desire to purchase firearms and explosives for use in a terrorist attack. He considered either Times Square or Washington, D.C., where he could kill a senior government official.

In January, he traveled to Times Square several times for "recon" and recorded video as he searched for potential targets, officials said. He also allegedly considered several ways to carry out the attack, including using a suicide vest or AR-15 assault rifles to kill police.

Investigators said he got in touch with an undercover officer on the internet while trying to purchase two Glock 9mm pistols. He was told that the firearms would have obliterated serial numbers, and he reportedly replied, "Oh, that's good, man."

He later met with the people believed were going to sell him firearms and discussed purchasing grenades because they could "take out at least eight people," officials said.

While plotting to carry out the attack, Alam strategically underwent Lasik eye surgery because he was worried about his glasses falling off, investigators said.

"Let's say we are in an attack, right, say that my glasses fall off. What if I accidentally shoot you? You know what I mean. Imagine what the news channel would call me the 'Looney Tunes Terrorist' or the 'Blind Terrorist,'" Alam said, according to investigators.

During this time, he also expressed praise for Osama bin Laden and said carrying out this attack would make him a "legend," according to the criminal complaint. When asked what would make him happy, he replied "seeing the flag of Islam on the Twin Towers or the Empire State Building," he said, according to the complaint.

Investigators said Alam again met with the individual he believed was going to sell him firearms and gave them $400. He was arrested shortly afterward.

Alam appeared in federal court in Downtown Brooklyn Friday. The judge issued an order of detention for the defendant, citing that he poses a danger to the community and a risk of flight. The next hearing date is set for June 21 at 11:00 a.m.

He is not believed to be linked to any other people or part of a larger plot.

Alam is a Bangladeshi citizen and permanent United States resident. Eyewitness News talked to several neighbors who said they really didn't know him, describing Alam as quiet.

The U.S. Attorney's Office is expected to comment later Friday. The NYPD referred questions to the FBI.

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