- Akayed Ullah, the New York City subway bombing suspect, appeared in court Wednesday via video from his hospital bed.
- Federal prosecutors charged Ullah on Tuesday with five counts, including providing support to a terrorist organisation and using a weapon of mass destruction.
Akayed Ullah, the man accused of detonating a makeshift bomb in a busy underground passageway in New York City on Monday, made his first court appearance on Wednesday via video as he lay in his hospital bed.
Ullah, a 27-year-old Brooklyn resident originally from Bangladesh, was presented with the charges laid by federal prosecutors on Tuesday, which include supporting a terrorist organisation, using a weapon of mass destruction, bombing a place of public use, destroying property by means of fire or explosives, and using a destructive device during a violent crime.
Three of the counts carry a maximum sentence of life in prison upon conviction. Prosecutors on Wednesday asked that Ullah continue to be detained without bail, and his public defender did not challenge the request, according to court documents.
Ullah remains hospitalized due to serious burns from the pipe bomb that was strapped to his chest when it partially detonated. During his appearance, he was covered to the neck in a white blanket, and remained mostly expressionless, according to a Reuters reporter who was there. The Manhattan federal court doesn’t allow cameras inside the courtroom.
Magistrate Judge Katharine Parker told him that he had a right to an attorney and did not have to make any statements. His next court appearance is set for January 13.
The alleged attack occurred early Monday morning in a narrow passageway connecting the Times Square subway station and Port Authority bus terminal in Manhattan. The explosion injured just three people in addition to Ullah, who was found lying on the ground at the scene and arrested.
Ullah told investigators in an interview that he constructed the bomb and carried out the attack on behalf of the terrorist group ISIS, according to a criminal complaint released Tuesday.
Authorities said Ullah posted several statements to Facebook shortly before the attack, including a taunt to President Donald Trump saying, “Trump you failed to protect your nation.”
Another post expressed a message Ullah “believed would be understood by members and supporters of ISIS to convey that Ullah carried out the attack in the name of ISIS,” according to the complaint.
In a search of Ullah’s apartment, authorities also found bomb-making materials consistent with those of the pipe bomb found at the scene of Monday’s explosion, and a Bangladeshi passport that contained the handwritten message “O AMERICA, DIE IN YOUR RAGE,” the complaint said.
Investigators said they believe Ullah was first radicalized around 2014 and began conducting internet research on how to build improvised explosive devices roughly a year ago.
The complaint said Ullah viewed pro-ISIS materials online and watched a video instructing supporters to carry out attacks in their homeland if they were unable to travel overseas to join the terrorist group.
The complaint accuses Ullah of carrying out the attack “to terrorize as many people as possible,” alleging that he chose to attack on a Monday with the hope that more people would be present since it was a workday.
The pipe bomb used in the attack was filled with metal screws and attached to Ullah’s body using zip ties, with a homemade detonator that included Christmas-tree lights, according to the complaint.
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