Terror Suspect Arrested; Three Sustain Minor Injuries from Port Authority Explosion | chelseanow.com

Terror Suspect Arrested; Three Sustain Minor Injuries from Port Authority Explosion

The area around Eighth Ave. and W. 42nd St., blocked off on the morning of Dec. 11. Photo by Christian Miles.

NOTE: This article was updated at 6 p.m. on Mon., Dec. 11, with additional information about the suspect and subway access.

BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC | Police have identified the suspect in an early Monday morning explosion that shook commuters at one of the city’s busiest transit hubs.

Akayed Ullah, 27, is in custody for allegedly detonating a “low-tech” pipe bomb at around 7:20 a.m. near the Port Authority Bus Terminal, James O’Neill, NYPD police commissioner, said at a press briefing held just after 9:30 a.m.

The device went off “in a below ground walkway, IND line and 42nd St. & Eighth Ave., [which] connects the Port Authority bus terminal to the NYC IRT 42nd and Seventh Avenue Shuttle at Times Square,” O’Neill noted.

Three people had minor injuries, Dan Nigro, FDNY commissioner, said, with the suspect, Ullah, sustaining serious injuries and taken to Bellevue Hospital. When Ullah allegedly detonated the device, it caused burns to his hands and abdomen, Nigro said.

Just after 9:30 a.m., at W. 42nd St. and Eighth Ave., Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at a press briefing at which representatives of the NYPD, FDNY, and MTA also provided information. Photo by Christian Miles.

O’Neill said the device was strapped to Ullah’s body with Velcro and zip ties, and in transit video, he is seen walking down a corridor, O’Neill also noted. The suspect did make statements concerning ISIS, but O’Neill would not elaborate about ties to the group or motivation.

Mayor Bill de Blasio called it an “attempted terrorist attack.”

“Let’s be clear, as New Yorkers, our lives revolve around the subways,” he said. “When we hear of an attack on the subway, it’s incredibly unsettling.”

Ullah, originally from Bangladesh, has lived here for seven years, and resided in Midwood, Brooklyn, according to PIX11.com. Authorities were searching his home, The New York Times reported.

Law enforcement has yet to state the suspect’s motive but a source told CNN that Ullah “was upset, in his words, with the ‘incursion into Gaza.’ ” Last week, President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital sparking outrage in parts of the Arab world. Over the weekend, there were Israeli airstrikes against Hamas in Gaza, CNN reported.

The New York Daily News reported that the Ullah told “authorities his attack was in the name of the Islamic State,” and that he had been reading Inspire magazine. Inspire is the English language of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and was part of the evidence against convicted Chelsea bomber Ahmad Khan Rahimi. The magazine has articles such as “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom.”

Commuters fled after the device detonated, The Times reported. The MTA responded quickly, and “immediately shut down” the A, C, and E lines, Joe Lhota, the MTA chairman, said. The 1, 2, 3, N, Q, R, W, and 7 trains were skipping Times Square-42nd St. in both directions, but now have resumed making the station stop with delays. Customers are advised that they need to exit the station to transfer to those lines as the police investigation is ongoing, according to the MTA’s website. The A, C, and E are once again stopping at 42nd St.-Port Authority Bus Terminal with delays.

In addition to the suspect, three people sustained minor injuries from the explosion. Two took themselves to Mt. Sinai West, one to Mt. Sinai Queens. Photo by Christian Miles.

De Blasio said there would be an expanded NYPD presence today and police are working to secure all major transit hubs.

“This is most resilient place on Earth, we’ve proven it time and time again,” de Blasio said. “We’ve proved it just over a month ago. We proved it on 9/11. We are going to prove it again today. The terrorists will not win, we are going keep being New Yorkers.”

John Mudd, president of the Midtown South Community Council, has lived at W. 38th St. and Eighth Ave. for more than 30 years.

“It certainly shakes everyone up,” Mudd said by phone. “I’m walking down the street and I’m getting all choked up.”

This attack comes on the heel of a terrorist attack in Lower Manhattan on Oct. 31 that left eight killed and 11 injured.

Information about the suspect or today’s incident should be shared via the terror hotline: 888-NYC-SAFE.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Photo by Christian Miles

Photo by Christian Miles

Photo by Christian Miles

Photo by Christian Miles

Photo by Christian Miles