NYC Commuters See Hightened Security 12/12 06:35
NEW YORK (AP) -- A would-be suicide bomber's rush-hour blast in the heart of
the New York City subway system failed to cause the bloodshed he intended,
authorities said, but it gave new fuel to President Donald Trump's push to
Hours after Monday's explosion in an underground passageway connecting two
of Manhattan's busiest stations, Trump cited the background of the bomber in
renewing his call for closer scrutiny of foreigners who come to the country and
less immigration based on family ties.
The man arrested in the bombing, Akayed Ullah --- who told investigators he
wanted to retaliate for American action against Islamic State extremists ---
came to the U.S. from Bangladesh in 2011 on a visa available to certain
relatives of U.S. citizens.
"Today's terror suspect entered our country through extended-family chain
migration, which is incompatible with national security," Trump said in a
statement that called for various changes to the immigration system. Earlier,
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump's proposed policies
"could have prevented this."
In a scenario New York had dreaded for years, Ullah strapped on a crude pipe
bomb with Velcro and plastic ties, slipped unnoticed into the nation's busiest
subway system and set off the device, authorities said.
The device didn't work as intended; authorities said Ullah, 27, was the only
person seriously wounded. But the attack sent frightened commuters fleeing
through a smoky passageway, and three people suffered headaches and ringing
ears from the first bomb blast in the subway in more than two decades.
"This is one of my nightmares ... a terrorist attack in the subway system,"
Gov. Andrew Cuomo told cable channel NY1. "The good news is: We were on top of
Ullah was being treated for burns to his hands and abdomen but spoke to
investigators from his hospital bed, law enforcement officials said. He was
"all over the place" about his motive but indicated he wanted to avenge what he
portrayed as U.S. aggression against the Islamic State group, a law enforcement
The officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity
because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the blast.
Ullah's low-tech bomb used explosive powder, a nine-volt battery, a
Christmas light and matches, the officials said. Investigators said the suspect
was seen on surveillance footage igniting the bomb.
In the end, it wasn't powerful enough to turn the pipe into deadly shrapnel,
the officials said.
Law enforcement officials said Ullah looked at IS propaganda online but is
not known to have any direct contact with the militants and probably acted
alone. Cuomo said there was no evidence, so far, of other bombs or a larger
plot. The Democrat said officials were exploring whether Ullah had been on
authorities' radar, but there was no indication yet that he was.
The attack came less than two months after eight people died near the World
Trade Center in a truck attack that, authorities said, was carried out by an
Uzbek immigrant who admired the Islamic State group.
Since 1965, America's immigration policy has centered on giving preference
to people with advanced education or skills, or people with family ties to U.S.
citizens and, in some cases, legal permanent residents. Citizens have been able
to apply for spouses, parents, children, siblings and the siblings' spouses and
minor children; the would-be immigrants are then screened by U.S. officials to
determine whether they can come.
Trump's administration has called for a "merit-based" immigration system
that would limit family-based green cards to spouses and minor children.
Ullah lived with his father, mother and brother in a Brooklyn neighborhood
with a large Bangladeshi community, residents said. He was licensed to drive a
livery cab between 2012 and 2015, but the license was allowed to lapse,
according to law enforcement officials and New York City's Taxi and Limousine
His family was "deeply saddened" by the attack but also "outraged by the way
we have been targeted by law enforcement," the family said in a statement sent
by the New York Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. A teenage
relative was pulled out of class and questioned in school without a parent,
guardian or lawyer, the statement said.
Bangladesh's government condemned the subway 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," the South Asian nation's government said in a statement.
Security cameras captured the attacker walking casually through a crowded
passageway when the bomb went off around 7:20 a.m. A plume of white smoke
cleared to show the man sprawled on the ground and commuters scattering.
Port Authority police said officers found the man injured on the ground,
with wires protruding from his jacket and the device strapped to his torso.
They said he was reaching for a cellphone and they grabbed his hands.
The last bomb blast in the subway system was believed to be in December
1994, when an explosive made from mayonnaise jars and batteries wounded 48
people in a car in lower Manhattan. Prosecutors said unemployed computer
programmer Edward Leary set off the explosion to try to extort $2 million from
the city's transit agency; he claimed insanity. He was convicted of attempted
murder and sentenced to 94 years in prison.