A Bangladeshi man wearing a homemade pipe bomb detonated his explosive in a walkway at the Port Authority Bus Terminal near Times Square on Monday, December 11th injuring five people and causing chaos in one of the city’s busiest commuter hubs, City officials said.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called the explosion in the terminal at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue an “attempted terrorist attack” that appears to be isolated. Police identified the suspect in custody as Akayed Ullah, 27.
Ullah is from the Bangladeshi city of Chittagong and is a U.S. resident, said the country’s police chief. He had no criminal record there and last visited Bangladesh on September 8, the chief said. Ullah had a black cab/limousine driver’s license from 2012 to 2015, after which it expired, the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission said.
The weapon was based on a pipe bomb and fixed to the suspect with zip ties and velcro, police said. New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo, speaking at a news conference near the site, described the device as “amateur-level”. New York City was a target, said John Miller, deputy police commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism.
Follwing the terror attack on the busy Monday morning, the bus terminal was temporarily shut down and a large swath of mid-town Manhattan was closed to traffic. Subway train service returned to normal after earlier disruptions.
WABC reported the suspect was in his 20s and that he has been in the U.S. for seven years and has an address in New York’s Brooklyn borough. Police shut down the entire block and there was a heavy police presence outside the home. The bus terminal is the busiest in the U.S., according to the Port Authority. On a typical weekday, about 2,20,000 passengers arrive or depart on more than 7,000 buses.
In conversations with authorities, Ullah pledged allegiance to ISIS, according to one law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the investigation. He is of Bangladeshi descent and lives in Brooklyn, two law enforcement sources told CNN. Ullah held a Taxi & Limousine Commission license from March 2012 to March 2015, after which the license was not renewed, TLC spokesman Allan Fromberg said. It’s unclear “whether he drove for any particular base, or whether he simply got the license but didn’t drive at all,” Fromberg said.
Ullah came to the United States in 2011 on an F43 family immigrant visa, said Department of Homeland Security spokesman Tyler Houlton. He is now a lawful permanent resident. According to the State Department, F43 visas are granted to children of American citizens’ siblings. It’s unclear if Ullah is linked to any terror organization. Authorities are investigating his pledge of loyalty to ISIS.