NYC Terror Attack Suspect Claims He Did It For ISIS

NEW YORK (CBS News) — A man detonated an improvised explosive device in an underground passageway at a major commuter hub in New York City Monday morning, officials said. New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill identified the suspect as Akayed Ullah, 27, who sustained injuries from the blast and was in police custody.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the incident was an attempted terror attack.

“Thank God the perpetrator did not achieve his ultimate goals,” de Blasio said.

The suspect has been interviewed by investigators, and CBS News has learned that he claimed he carried out the attack for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and was inspired by the group.

CBS News has also learned that authorities are investigating whether he may have been in contact with known extremist individuals. Investigators are trying to determine if anyone may have assisted him in the plot.

The blast took place in a passageway underneath 42nd Street in Manhattan that connects the subway stations at Times Square and the Port Authority Bus Terminal, which is packed with commuters during the morning rush.

O’Neill said the suspect was heading toward the Times Square subway station when the device detonated at approximately 7:20 a.m.

A photo confirmed by CBS News showed a bearded man crumpled on the ground with his shirt apparently blown off and black soot covering his bare midriff. A police officer is holding the man’s hands behind his back.

This photo confirmed by CBS News shows a suspect after his explosive device detonated in an underground passageway near the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City Dec. 11, 2017.

Another law enforcement source tells CBS News’ Jeff Pegues that four Port Authority Police officers apprehended the suspect. When they encountered him the area there was smoke around him and debris all over the floor. CBS News has learned that Ullah sustained a shrapnel wound. The source also says as police approached the suspect appeared to be reaching for a cellphone and he had wires protruding from his jacket and his pants.

The four officers, identified as making the arrest, range in age from 26 years old to 45 years old. Three of them served in the military, with one of them being a bomb technician, Pegues reports.

O’Neill said three other people in the immediate area of the blast were also injured. Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said they suffered minor injuries consistent with being in the area of an explosion such as ringing in the ears and headaches. They transported themselves to area hospitals.

Nigro said the suspect sustained burns to his hands and abdomen in addition to lacerations. He was taken to a Manhattan hospital.

Mount Sinai Health System said it had received and treated 5 patients with minor injuries, according to a statement. All were in stable condition. Mount Sinai says it is working with law enforcement officials.

CBS News has learned that the suspect was from Bangladesh. Ullah legally entered the U.S. in February 2011 on an immigrant visa and eventually became a legal permanent resident. He has no criminal record.

A law enforcement source told CBS News that indications are Ullah had traveled overseas, including an apparent trip to Bangladesh in Sept. 2017, returning to the U.S. in Oct. 2017. He also had previous travel to the United Arab Emirates.

New York terror attack

Authorities said the bomb was a low-tech explosive device. They were investigating how it was made, and combing through surveillance footage that captured the blast on video.

CBS News has learned from a law enforcement official that Ullah made the bomb himself, with the intention to harm others. He apparently built the device with elements he acquired at his workplace. Officials would not confirm details about Ullah’s bomb-making procedures or what was contained inside of the device.

It’s unclear whether he assembled explosive device at his workplace or at his Brooklyn apartment or elsewhere.

Charges against Ullah are expected to be filed in federal court in New York, possibly as early as Tuesday.

A video posted on social media and confirmed by CBS News showed the moment of the explosion on security footage. In it, a man walks through the crowded pedestrian tunnel and the bomb suddenly going off in a plume of white smoke. Through the smoke, the suspect is then seen sprawled on the ground as bystanders flee.

Read more and see videos, here.