Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Charges framed against NY bomb suspect

Bangladeshi-origin terror suspect Akayed Ullah. —AFP/File
Bangladeshi-origin terror suspect Akayed Ullah. —AFP/File

NEW YORK: US prosecutors on Tuesday brought federal charges against a Bangladeshi man, accusing him of using a weapon of mass destruction in Monday’s bombing of a Manhattan commuter hub.

Akayed Ullah, 27, was charged in a criminal complaint filed in Manhattan federal court with providing material support to a foreign terrorist organisation, bombing a public place, destruction of property by means of explosive and use of a destructive device.

Akayed Ullah told police interviewers after the blast that “I did it for the [militant] Islamic State [group]”, according to court papers filed by federal prosecutors.

He began the process of self-radicalisation in 2014 when he began viewing pro-IS materials online and carried out his attack because he was angry over US policies in the Middle East, prosecutors said.

New York officials on Tuesday also charged Akayed Ullah with terrorism, accusing him of setting off a pipe bomb, as investigators in his home country questioned his wife.

Akayed Ullah was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, supporting an act of terrorism, and making a terroristic threat under New York state law, the New York Police Department said.

‘America, die in your rage’

On the morning of the attack, Akayed Ullah posted on his Facebook page, “Trump you failed to protect your nation.” His passport, which was recovered from his home, had handwritten notes, including one that read, “O AMERICA, DIE IN YOUR RAGE.”

Investigators at the scene found a nine-volt battery inside Akayed Ullah’s pants pocket, as well as fragments from a metal pipe and the remnants of what appeared to be a Christmas tree light bulb attached to wires.

Investigators in Bangladesh were questioning Akayed Ullah’s wife, according to two officials who declined to be identified as they were not permitted to discuss the matter publicly. They did not provide details on the questioning, but said the couple have a six-month-old baby boy.

Bangladesh strongly condemned the attack. “A terrorist is a terrorist irrespective of his or her ethnicity or religion, and must be brought to justice,” the government said in a statement.

Immigration reform

US President Donald Trump on Monday said the attack emphasised the need for US immigration reforms.

“America must fix its lax immigration system, which allows far too many dangerous, inadequately vetted people to access our country,” he said in a statement.

The president also criticised the visa programme that allowed Akayed Ullah to enter the United States in 2011 because he had family members already in the country, saying such family visas are “incompatible with national security”.

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