NYC suspect ‘chose site because of Christmas posters’

San Francisco: A former hire car driver chose to bomb one of New York City’s busiest subway corridors because of its Christmas-themed posters, law enforcement officials said following the explosion that sent peak-hour commuters into a frenzy at the start of the working week.

Akayed Ullah, who moved to the US from Bangladesh on a family visa seven years ago, was “angry” and learnt how to build a bomb on the internet at his Brooklyn apartment, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

But the 27-year-old allegedly hoped to wreak far more destruction when he detonated an improvised device on the underground walkway between the Times Square and Port Authority subway stations just after 7.20am on Monday, local time.

The low-tech homemade pipe bomb, strapped to his abdomen with Velcro strips and cable ties, didn’t detonate properly.

Packed with household items, Christmas tree lights and screws, the device’s chemical component exploded but the pipe failed to shatter, and Ullah injured only himself.

CCTV showed Ullah, wearing beige cargo pants and a hoodie, walking among commuters before a loud bang and a small plume of smoke engulfed him. He lay on the ground in foetal position as commuters scrambled for the exits.

“There was a stampede up the stairs to get out,” commuter Diego Fernandez said. “Everybody was scared and running and shouting.”

Ullah, who suffered burns and cuts to his hands and abdomen, has made several statements to investigators from his hospital bed, multiple local media outlets reported.

He said he chose the hallway beneath 42nd Street and 8th Avenue because of its Christmas-themed posters, recalling strikes in Europe against Christmas markets, several law enforcement officials told the New York Times.

He also told investigators that he set off the bomb in retaliation for US air strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria, Gaza and Israel.

He admitted that he had looked up online how to build the bomb and had assembled it at home, buying all of the materials except the pipe, which he said he found at a job site where he was working as an electrician at 39th Street and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan, two officials said.

Police believe he may have become familiar with the Port Authority site after working in the area.

The Bangladeshi government condemned the attack.

“Bangladesh is committed to its declared policy of ‘Zero Tolerance’ against terrorism, and condemns terrorism and violent extremism in all forms or manifestations anywhere in the world, including Monday morning’s incident in New York City,” it said in a statement.

Police in Bangladesh were not in a position to comment on the suspect.

Mr Cuomo confirmed that investigators believe Ullah was motivated by Islamic State. He described the man as someone “who was annoyed or irritated by our political position or who was sympathetic to ISIS”.

Like Sayfullo Saipov, the Uzbek immigrant who allegedly used a rented ute to fatally mow down eight people in New York in October, Ullah was “disgruntled”, Mr Cuomo said.

“Both of them went on the web, downloaded information,” he said on MSNBC. “Fortunately the bomb was very low-tech. It did go off [but] it didn’t have the desired effect.” BREAKING VIDEO: Moment of explosion at 42nd St and 8th Avenue in Manhattan pic.twitter老域名出售/JwygdnnwNb??? New York City Alerts (@NYCityAlerts) December 11, 2017

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