U.S.: On Tuesday a Bangladeshi immigrant was convicted of setting off a pipe bomb in New York City’s busiest subway station in December 2017, disputing in court that he was supporting the Islamic State group and saying he was instead motivated by anger at President Donald Trump.
Akayed Ullah, who said he was acting in name of Islamic State group, was initially indicted on terrorism charges in January 2018.
The attack was never claimed by Islamic State but was mentioned and Akayed Ullah was praised in an article in Islamic State’s al-Naba magazine issue no. 110.
The Associated Press reports:
The unusual outburst by Akayed Ullah, who was convicted in Manhattan federal court of supporting the terrorist group, capped a trial in which the defense maintained he intended to kill only himself last Dec. 11. Nobody died, and most of the injuries were not serious.
Prosecutors said Ullah sought to maim or kill commuters in response to calls for “lone wolf” terrorist attacks by the terror group. Just after jurors walked out, Ullah announced he had something to say and repeatedly insisted he did not act on the Islamic State group’s behalf.
“I was angry with Donald Trump because he says he will bomb the Middle East and then he will protect his nation. So I said: ‘Donald Trump, you cannot do like this.’ Nobody likes bombing, your honor.”
Judge Richard J. Sullivan told him: “Right now is not the time for a statement.”
“Your honor, you heard what the government is trying to do. They are trying to put me in the group, which I don’t support, your honor,” Ullah told Sullivan.
“Mr. Ullah, now is not the time for this,” said the judge, who set sentencing for April 5. Ullah faces a mandatory 30-year prison sentence and could be sent to prison for life.
Hearing about Ullah’s new claims, juror Linda Artis told reporters Ullah could have swayed some jurors by taking the witness stand.
“He did it. The big question was why,” she said. “And a lot of it couldn’t be answered because he didn’t testify. That was the big hang-up for me.”
Artis, 38, of Manhattan, said she worried some vague laws might allow a lot of people to be “labeled a terrorist if they are just a random whack job.”
In a statement, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said the Election Day verdict on Ullah’s attempt to make a political statement with deadly violence “fittingly underscores the core principles of American democracy and spirit: Americans engage in the political process through votes, not violence.”
At trial, prosecutors said Ullah would not have worn a bomb had he wanted to kill only himself. They cited Ullah’s social media postings and said he told an investigator: “I did it for the Islamic State.”
The weeklong trial featured surveillance video of Ullah the morning when his pipe bomb barely exploded, seriously burning him in a corridor beneath Times Square and the Port Authority bus terminal, where most subway lines converge.
Ullah, 28, of Brooklyn, was confronted with his post-arrest statements and his social media comments, such as when he taunted Trump on Facebook before the attack.
Within hours of Ullah’s blast, Trump was assailing the immigration system that had allowed Ullah — and multitudes of law-abiding Bangladeshis — to enter the U.S.
Ullah got an entry visa in 2011 because he had an uncle who was already a U.S. citizen. Trump said allowing foreigners to follow relatives to the U.S. was “incompatible with national security.”
Authorities said Ullah’s radicalization began in 2014 when he started viewing materials online, including a video instructing Islamic State supporters to carry out attacks in their homelands.
In closing arguments Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney George Turner said Ullah told investigators after his arrest that he wanted to avenge U.S. aggression toward the Islamic State group and had chosen a busy weekday morning to attack so he could terrorize as many people as possible.
Ullah’s attorney, Amy Gallicchio, told jurors Ullah was not a terrorist and wanted to die alone.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Shawn Crowley disputed that.
“It was about martyrdom, not suicide,” she said.
ITCT Deputy Director Faran Jeffery, while talking to ITCT Newsdesk exclusively about the case, said, “I find this case very fascinating and the Bangladeshi individual quite amusing. It’s pretty clear that the guy is a monumental idiot who self-radicalised through online terrorist propaganda and at some point developed sympathy for the Islamic State group. He has now apparently decided to deny that he did it in support of IS and instead claim he just wanted to kill himself, after probably being advised by his lawyer and family. But I suppose denying now, after he refused to make a testimony, will not cut him any slack with the law. After all, if he wanted to only kill himself, he could have just drowned himself in a bath tub. He definitely wouldn’t have gone to a public place with explosives strapped to his body. He says he was angry at President Trump for ‘bombing Middle East’ and yet he himself is from Bangladesh, which, you know, isn’t in the Middle East.”
A detailed Twitter thread by Faran Jeffery on the case of Akayed Ullah can be viewed here:
So what's interesting about the Manhattan attack, besides that explosive device, is that here we have a Bangladeshi who confessed on spot for acting in name of ISIS.
The last major ISIS attack involving a Bangladeshi was in July 2016 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. https://t.co/17wJk3Zfxu
— F. Jeffery 👁 (@Natsecjeff) December 11, 2017