NEW YORK — A US jury convicted a Brooklyn immigrant from Bangladesh of terrorism on Tuesday for detonating a bomb in a crowded New York subway passage near Times Square in the name of the Islamic State group.
Akayed Ullah, 28, who migrated to the United States in 2011, was found guilty by a unanimous jury as Americans went to the polls in the midterm elections. His trial in Manhattan lasted a week.
The December 11, 2017 blast wounded Ullah and three other people in a tunnel below the Port Authority bus terminal, not far from iconic Times Square.
The bomb, which he strapped to his body with zip wires, failed to detonate as planned, and Ullah was left with burns to his torso and hands. His victims suffered minor complaints such as ringing in their ears and headaches.
But the explosion sowed panic and disrupted the morning commute during the busy Christmas tourism season, six weeks after another a truck driver, also reportedly inspired by the IS group, killed eight people on a bike path.
Ullah, a driver, was convicted on all six counts and faces a maximum sentence of life behind bars when he is sentenced on April 5, 2019.
His convictions include supporting a foreign terrorist organization, using a weapon of mass destruction and bombing a public place.
Caught on camera
He was caught on CCTV walking through the subway terminal and detonating the bomb strapped to his body. After his arrest, he allegedly told authorities: "I did it for the Islamic State."
"Today, Ullah stands convicted, he faces a potential life sentence, and his purpose failed. New York City remains a shining symbol of freedom and hope," said Geoffrey Berman, the top US federal prosecutor in Manhattan.
Ullah built the bomb in his apartment, packing the device with metal screws and Christmas tree lights, having planned the attack for several weeks.
On the morning of the bombing, Ullah posted a statement on Facebook referring to the US president saying: "Trump you failed to protect your nation."
A chilling handwritten note saying "O America die in your rage" was found, along with metal pipes, wires and screws in his home, prosecutors said.
Ullah began to radicalize in 2014, three years after moving to the US, by watching IS propaganda online before starting to research how to make bombs a year ago, officials said.
Prosecutors say he opposed US government policies in the Middle East and wanted to terrorise as many people as possible, deliberately choosing a week day when the area would be most crowded.
Although he is a lawful permanent resident of the United States, his wife and son live in Bangladesh, which is waging its own war against extremism. — AFP