5 hurt, suspect survives New York City attempted suicide terror attack

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
News coverage: Explosion at Port Authority Bus Terminal in NYC
News coverage: Explosion at Port Authority Bus Terminal in NYC

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- Five people suffered minor injuries and a man is in custody after an explosion in the subway under the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan that Mayor Bill de Blasio called "an attempted terrorist attack."

A pipe bomb affixed to the suspect with Velcro straps detonated at about 7:20 a.m. Monday in the passageway between subway lines that runs a full city block under 42nd Street between 7th and 8th avenues.

The suspect, identified as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah, suffered burns to his arms and torso from the device that went off. He is alert and conscious but badly injured at Bellevue Hospital, sources say.

"Preliminary investigation at the scene indicates that this male was wearing an improvised low-tech explosive device attached to his body," NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said. "He intentionally detonated that device."

Governor Andrew Cuomo said that while Ullah intentionally detonated the device, the pipe did not fully shatter so it did not have the desired effect. The governor also said Ullah signaled to police he learned to make the device from online instructions and his motive was he was "angry."

"Anyone can go on the internet and download garbage and vileness on how to put together an amateur-level explosive device," Governor Cuomo said.

During a series of interviews Monday afternoon. Governor Cuomo also proposed that internet providers should consider their responsibility when they know a user is downloading information on how to hurt people.

"It's a question we will have to deal with," he said.

Ullah, whose address is in Brooklyn, is from Bangladesh and has been in the United States for seven years. He came to the U.S. on an F-4 visa, a preferential visa available for those with family in the U.S. who are citizens or permanent residents, and officials believe he made the bomb in his apartment in an attack he planned for about a year. Authorities said he was speaking with investigators from his hospital bed and that he made statements indicating he acted in solidarity with ISIS, although he appears self radicalized with no actual ties to the group.

Authorities used his MetroCard to track his movements. They say he boarded the F train at the 18th Avenue station in Borough Park at 6:25 a.m. and took to the Jay Street station in Downtown Brooklyn, where he switched to the A for the ride to the Port Authority. The crudely made homemade device he carried with him on that subway ride included Christmas tree lights -- recommended on the Internet as detonators for homemade bombs. But this pipe bomb was not packed tightly enough and failed to detonate, only blowing the ends of the pipe.

Because it was strapped to Ullah, the assumption is that he had been prepared to die a suicide bomber. There were nails and other bits stuffed into the pipe, and sources said it had the ability to impose more injuries than it did. But a 6-inch piece was discovered fully intact.

"This could have been worse," the source said.

Ullah currently works as an electrician but has worked as a taxi driver in the past.

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Police secure Eighth Avenue outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal following an explosion near New York's Times Square on Monday, Dec. 11, 2017.
AP Photo/Chuck Zoeller

"This was an attempted terrorist attack," de Blasio said at a news conference. "Thank God the perpetrator did not achieve his ultimate goals."

Cuomo asked New Yorkers to be alert but go about their lives.

"Let's go back to work," he said. "We're not going to allow them to disrupt us."

The bus terminal was temporarily closed but later re-opened, and subway service was disrupted throughout the morning but has since returned to normal with delays.

Marcus Solis has the latest on the impact on mass transit from Monday's terror attack.

There was a massive police response in the area surrounding the terminal, but authorities stressed there were no additional credible threats against the city. Still, the NYPD was beefing up security at high-profile sites across the area.

Authorities confirm the bomb squad searched for a second possible device, which is normal procedure after an explosion.

Streets were closed off in the vicinity of the bus terminal, snarling traffic during rush hour. Most streets have reopened.

The NYPD, FDNY and first responders were all at the scene.

The White House praised the first responders at an afternoon news conference: "On behalf of the President and a grateful nation, we would like to thank them and commend them for their bravery."

Press secretary Sarah Sanders issues statement regarding the pipe bomb attack in NYC

The Bangladesh Embassy in Washington condemned the attack. The deputy chief of mission, Mahbub Hassan Saleh, said the embassy had not received any information from authorities about the suspect.

It was the first bomb blast in the subway in more than two decades. The last bomb to go off in the subway system was believed to be in December 1994, when an explosive made from mayonnaise jars and batteries wounded 48 people in a car in lower Manhattan.


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