ISIS-Inspired Immigrant from Bangladesh Detonates IED in the Heart of New York City

  • At around 7:10 on the morning of December 11, 2017, an IED was detonated in the subway corridor connecting the Port Authority Bus Terminal to the Times Square subway station. The homemade pipe bomb exploded while strapped onto the terrorist’s body. He was seriously wounded; three passersby sustained minor injuries. The terrorist was arrested. So far ISIS has not claimed responsibility for the attack. The attack was ISIS-inspired, but so far no proof has been found directly linking the terrorist to the organization.
  • The terrorist was Akayed Ullah, 27, an immigrant from Bangladesh, who came to the United States in 2011 on a family immigrant visa (receiving it as the nephew of an American resident). He lived in Brooklyn, drove a taxi (2102-2015), and recently began working as an electrician. He did not have a criminal record. He prayed at the Nur al-Islam mosque in Kensington, Brooklyn (a neighborhood which is home to more than 3,000 Bangladeshis).
Akayed Ullah after the bomb exploded ( website, which took the picture from Twitter, December 11, 2017).   Akayed Ullah (Twitter account of @PamelaGeller, December 12, 2017).
Right: Akayed Ullah (Twitter account of @PamelaGeller, December 12, 2017).
Left: Akayed Ullah after the bomb exploded ( website, which took the picture from Twitter, December 11, 2017).
  • The terrorist’s objective was to kill and wound as many people as possible, and therefore he decided to set off the bomb during rush hour on a workday. He chose the underground corridor because it was lined with Christmas posters, and he apparently wanted to link the attack to Christmas. He began surfing the Internet for information about constructing an IED about a year ago. He constructed the bomb at his home in Brooklyn. A search of his home revealed the materials he used to make it.
  • Akayed Ullah was radicalized by ISIS videos he watched on the Internet. His online radicalization began in 2014 (the year during which the spread of the Islamic State peaked). One of the videos he watched instructed ISIS supporters abroad to carry out attacks in their own countries if they could not come to Iraq and Syria. Before the attack he posted a message to Donald Trump on his Facebook page saying, “Trump you failed to protect your nation.” He posted another message, apparently for ISIS operatives and supporters, to make it clear he was carrying out the attack in the name of ISIS (website of the NYPD, December 11 and 12, 2017; NBC news, December 12, 2017).

It was the second ISIS-inspired attack carried out in New York in recent weeks (on October 31, 2017, a vehicular attack was carried out that killed eight people). Both attacks were inspired by ISIS and carried out by first-generation immigrants who had come to the United States about seven years ago (from Uzbekistan and Bangladesh). Both were inspired by incitement in ISIS videos on the Internet calling for Muslims in the United States (and other Western countries) to carry out attacks.[1] In ITIC assessment, despite the collapse of the Islamic State, and despite the fact that its propaganda machine was damaged, ISIS still has the capabilities and motivation to continue spreading jihadist propaganda on the Internet and through the social networks with the objective of inciting Muslims in Western (and other) countries to carry out attacks. Christmas, which is barely two weeks away, may be considered a significant date for attacks.

[1] According to the charges against Ullah, more than nine ISIS propaganda videos were found on one of his cell phones. Also found were instructions for making an IED. He was inspired by the videos on his cell phone. The video that influenced him the most was of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi calling on Muslims in the United States and everywhere else to respond to the killing of Muslims in Iraq.