NEW YORK – A man who, inspired by the Islamic State group, giving a crude pipe bomb strapped to his body Monday in a crowded train corridor in the vicinity of Times Square, injuring the man slightly injured three others, and sending New York commuters fleeing in terror through the smoky passage.
Surveillance cameras captured the man walking casually through the busy passage when the bomb went off at 7:20 pm, surrounded by a cloud of white smoke, which cleared to the man sprawled out on the ground and commuters scattering to get away. The researchers said that it was not clear whether he made the bomb out of intent or prematurely terminated.
“This was an attempt to a terrorist attack,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters. “Thank God the offender has not reached his ultimate goal.”
The suspect, who was identified as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah, was treated at a hospital for burns to his hands and abdomen. The others who were injured suffered from tinnitus and headache.
Law enforcement officials said Ullah was inspired by the Islamic State group, but apparently have no direct contact with the group and likely acted alone. Gov. Andrew Cuomo later told the NY1 cable channel that the suspect went online to learn how to make a bomb.
“We have no evidence at this time that there are no secondary devices or it was part of a larger plan,” said Cuomo.
Ullah, who lives in Brooklyn, came to the U.S. from Bangladesh about seven years ago and had been licensed to drive a livery cab between 2012 and 2015, according to the officials of the law enforcement and the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission. He spoke with investigators from his hospital bed, police said.
A person briefed on the investigation said Ullah arrived in the United States on an F-4 visa, a preferential visas available for people with family in the U.S. who are citizens, and that he has the bomb in his house.
The officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to speak publicly about the blast.
The researchers looked Ullah’s apartment, interviewing witnesses and family and looking into the surveillance footage can show that his movements in the moments before the attack.
Ullah lived with his father, mother and brother in a residential area of Brooklyn with a large Bangladeshi community, neighbors said. The house was just off a shopping strip a red two-story brick building.
Alan Butrico owner of the house next door, and a locksmith company two doors down.
“It is very strange,” he said. “You never know who your neighbors are.”
The Bangladesh Embassy in Washington condemned the attack. The deputy head of the mission, Mahbub Saleh Hassan, said that the embassy has not received any information from the authorities about the identity of the suspect.
The explosion, which happened in an underground passage under 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues, led to a massive emergency response by the police and the fire brigade, both above and below the ground, not in the knot, metro, and bus service from the nearby Port Authority bus terminal.
It is the city’s busiest subway station and an important transport hub, with 64 million subway riders pass through each year. In 2016, the daily ridership on the metro was 5.7 million, a record high.
Everything around Times Square was shut down, stopping what would normally be a busy rush hour on the “Crossroads of the World.” But the streets began to rapidly return to normal, and the traffic around the area is expected to be operational by the evening rush.
Authorities say that the bomb was a low-tech explosive device connected to the man with the Velcro and plastic straps. They examined how it was made.
Port Authority police said that the officials of the man wounded on the ground, with wires hanging from his jacket to his pants and the device strapped to his torso under his coat. She said that he was for the reach of a mobile phone and she grabbed his hands.
A photo, published by the New York Post showed a man with a beard, crumpled on the ground with his shirt apparently blown and black soot on his bare midriff. A police officer held the man has his hands behind his back. Another photo shown on NY1 showed the bearded suspect, big eyes, on a stretcher loaded into an ambulance.
Elrana Peralta, a customer-service employee for Greyhound, said she works in the Port Authority terminal in the neighborhood where the explosion happened but not hear the explosion.
“The only thing we could hear was the chaos,” she said. “We heard people screaming, ‘Get out! Get out! Get out!'”
John Miles, who is from Vermont, was waiting on a bus to Massachusetts. He did not hear the explosion but saw the police respond.
“I didn’t know what was going on. Officers were running around. I was freaking out,” he said. There was an announcement that the people their bags to leave. “They are not inciting panic. It was fairly orderly.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted that President Donald Trump had been informed about the explosion. Instead of commenting on the presumption of a terrorist attack, Trump sent a tweet at 9:17 pm the critique of a Sunday story in The New York Times that said he looked at a cable-news television for at least four hours per day.
The explosion came a few weeks after eight people died in New York when another man, also said to be inspired by the Islamic State, drove a rented truck on a bike path in the vicinity of the World Trade Center.
Cuomo said at a press conference after the attack that New Yorkers should be vigilant, but go about their life.
“Let’s go back to work,” he said. “”We’re not going to let you disturb us.”
Associated Press writers Jake Pearson, Kiley Armstrong and Larry Neumeister in New York, Michael Balsamo in Los Angeles, Mat Pennington in Washington, D. C., and researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.
Follow Colleen Lang on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/ctlong1 .