NYC Port Authority explosion: What we know about the suspect

Author: CBS NEWS

New York City police have identified the suspect in an explosion in a crowded subway corridor near the Port Authority bus terminal Monday morning as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah. Police say Ullah was carrying an “improvised low-tech explosive device” when it went off as he was in an underground pedestrian passageway at 42nd street between 7th and 8th Avenues, beneath the major commuter hub.

Mayor Bill de Blasio called it an “attempted terror attack.”

Three people suffered minor injuries and the suspect was seriously injured. No other threats were apparent, the mayor said.

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

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Ullah is in police custody. Officials say he sustained burns to his abdomen and hands after the crude pipe bomb exploded. 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.

Surveillance cameras captured the man walking casually through the crowded passageway when the bomb suddenly went off at 7:20 a.m. amid plume of white smoke, which cleared to show the man sprawled on the ground and commuters fleeing in terror.

Law enforcement officials told the Associated Press Ullah was inspired by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but apparently had no direct contact with the terrorist group. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the suspect or incident.

NYPD commissioner James O’Neill said the suspect “made statements” when he was taken into custody but wouldn’t say whether he made reference to ISIS.

The device was based on a pipe bomb and affixed to the suspect’s body with a combination of velcro and zip ties, said John Miller, the deputy commissioner of intelligence & counter-terrorism for the NYPD.  A federal law enforcement official told CBS News’ Jeff Pegues the device malfunctioned. The source says “it did not fully detonate which possibly caused the injury.”

O’Neill said it wasn’t clear whether the suspect detonated the device by accident or whether the location was intentional.  Officials were investigating how it was made.

The suspect also had another device on him, sources tell CBS News.

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Authorities are investigating the incident as a possible “lone wolf” attack based on the rudimentary construction of the device, reports CBS New York.

The suspect is from Bangladesh. CBS News has learned. 48 Hours’ Murray Weiss reports he has an address in Brooklyn. O’Neill wouldn’t confirm whether the suspect has a local address but said it’s part of the NYPD’s investigation. Ullah entered the U.S. with his parents and three to four siblings in February 2011 on an immigrant visa, sources tell CBS News. He obtained a green card and became a permanent U.S. resident.

Just over a year after arriving in the U.S., in March 2012, Ullah secured a livery license, the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission tells CBS News’ Graham Kates. That license, which was not for a New York City cab, but instead for a so-called “for-hire” vehicle, lapsed in March 2015.

Ullah had no criminal history prior to Monday’s attack, Weiss reports.

Anyone with information about Ullah is asked to call 1-888-NYC-SAFE.

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