A Manhattan detention center mistakenly housed an Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) suspect with the jail’s general population soon after he was arrested for allegedly participating in a terrorist plot with at least two other men to attack New York City in 2016.
In May 2016, federal authorities arrested 19-year-old Canadian Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy for his role in an alleged plot to detonate bombs in Times Square and in the subways.
The New York Times (NYT) reports:
The government said the men [Bahnasawy and his accomplices] had also planned to open fire at concert venues in New York, and that their plot had been detailed in communications with an undercover FBI agent, who had posed as an ISIS supporter and convinced them he would work with them.
Bahnasawy’s arrest yielded the apprehension of two other alleged accomplices — U.S. Citizen Alha Haroon, who was residing in jihadi sanctuary Pakistan, and Filipino Russell Salic, a 37-year-old.
Citing recently unsealed court papers, NYT explains:
Shortly after his arrest, jail officials mistakenly moved him into the general population of a federal detention center in Manhattan, instead of holding him in isolation. That lasted one day — long enough for him to have money stolen from his commissary account.
Several months later, after being allowed to move into the general population, Mr. El Bahnasawy was given drugs by another inmate, leading to more complications.
The unsealed court documents shed light on the shortcomings of the Manhattan detention center pertaining to handling high-value prisoners.
Ultimately, the FBI and New York Police Department (NYPD) were able to foil the ISIS-linked plot in New York, which was supposed to take place in 2016 during Ramadan, the holiest month for Muslims, when jihadist attacks tend to intensify across the world.
Islamist and various terrorist organizations encourage martyrdom and jihad during Ramadan, claiming Muslims who engage in such heinous activities will be especially rewarded.
“The authorities said Mr. El Bahnasawy was arrested in New Jersey after he entered the United States from Canada. The government said it had arrested two other plotters overseas, including Talha Haroon, a 19-year-old American citizen living in Pakistan, and Russell Salic, 37, of the Philippines,” notes NYT.
“Mr. El Bahnasawy pleaded guilty in October 2016 to conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction and other charges,” it adds.
Officials at the Manhattan detention center reportedly attempted to keep their mistakes secret.
However, “Mr. El Bahnasawy’s lawyers argued that the continued secrecy violated his right to a public trial, the filings show,” points out NYT.