Site of the New York subway bombing of Dec. 11, 2017 (Photo: The All-Nite Images from NY, NY, USA – Manhattan)

New York Subway Pipe Bomber Convicted, Faces Life in Prison

The 28-year-old Bangladeshi man who detonated a pipe bomb during rush hour in a subway station near the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal last year on behalf of ISIS was convicted of six counts on Tuesday, and now faces life in prison. Akayed Ullah will be sentenced April 5, 2019.

“Less than a year ago, Ullah constructed a pipe bomb and detonated it in a mass transit hub in the heart of New York City to harm and terrorize as many people as possible, all on behalf of ISIS. His crime reminds us that the threat of radical Islamist terrorism remains real,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said in a statement. “This guilty verdict holds Ullah accountable, and he faces a potential life term in federal prison for his crimes. I want to thank all the agents and prosecutors whose outstanding work made this result possible.”

Four people were injured in the attack.

At 7:20 a.m. on Dec. 11, 2017, Ullah, who was captured on surveillance footage, detonated an improvised explosive device in a subway terminal at West 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue. New York Port Authority and New Jersey Police Department officers found the bomber lying down on the ground near the blast site. He was found carrying the same rudimentary materials that he used to make his IEDs: a nine-volt battery, metal screws, wires, pieces of metal pipe and the remnants of a Christmas tree lightbulb. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital, waived his Miranda rights and reportedly told investigators that he chose rush hour to cause maximum damage, and that “I did it for the Islamic State.”

Another pipe bomb was found in his Brooklyn residence. Just prior to the detonation of the subway bomb, Ullah posted on Facebook, “Trump you failed to protect your nation.” A sweep of his computer revealed that his radicalization began in 2014 when he began watching pro-ISIS videos online and that he researched building bombs going back a year before the attack.

Ullah was convicted of:

  • One count of provision of material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison
  • One count of using and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison
  • One count of bombing and attempting to bomb a place of public use, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison
  • One count of destruction of property by means of fire or explosives, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison
  • One count of destruction of property by means of fire or explosives, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison
  • One count of use of a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence, namely, the use and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison

“Ullah’s sinister purpose was to harm and terrorize as many innocent people in his path as possible, by using deadly violence to make a political statement. Ullah’s conviction by a unanimous jury of New Yorkers falls on election day, which fittingly underscores the core principles of American democracy and spirit: Americans engage in the political process through votes, not violence,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman for the Southern District of New York. “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.”

Multimedia journalist James Cullum is Managing Editor of Homeland Security Today's Federal Pages. He has reported for over a decade to newspapers, magazines and websites in the D.C. metro area. He excels at finding order in chaotic environments, from slave liberations in South Sudan to the halls of the power in Washington, D.C.

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