A Bangladeshi migrant pleaded not guilty to charges of terrorism this week after carrying out a failed pipe bomb attack on the New York subway last month.
Akayed Ullah, 27, entered the plea at a courthouse in lower Manhattan, a day after he was indicted on charges of “providing material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, use of weapons of mass destruction, bombing a place of public use, destruction of property by means of fire or explosive, and use of a destructive device during and in furtherance of a crime of violence.”
When asked by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Sullivan how he wished to plea, Ullah responded, “At this moment, not guilty.”
Ullah, a Bangladeshi immigrant residing in Brooklyn, arrived in the United States on an F43 family immigrant visa in 2011 as part of an extended family chain migration process. He had worked as a taxi driver and an electrician.
The failed attack, which took place last December, involved Ullah attempting to detonate a “low-tech explosive device” in a subway corridor under the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
However, the detonation failed to hurt anyone but Ullah. Police officers noticed Ullah lying on the ground with numerous wires attached to his body, at which point they successfully subdued the suspect. Ullah was the only casualty in the incident, suffering serious burns and wounds.
“In selecting this time and place, Ullah’s alleged purpose in the Port Authority bombing was painfully clear: to inflict as much damage as possible, and to strike fear into the hearts of New Yorkers in the name of ISIS,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman while announcing the indictment.
Ullah’s court-appointed attorney, Amy Gallicchio, did not comment on the plea outside court, although did ask Judge Sullivan whether doctors could increase his medical care as multiple stitches were causing her client “a great deal of discomfort.”
According to federal investigators, Ullah was inspired by the Islamic State after being angered by President Donald Trump and U.S. policy in the Middle East.
In a Facebook post hours before the attack, Ullah wrote, “Trump you failed to protect your nation.” On searching his apartment, investigators also found a handwritten on his passport that read, “O AMERICA, DIE IN YOUR RAGE.”
“We’re calling for Congress to end chain migration and to end the visa lottery system, and replace it with a merit-based system of immigration,” Trump said at an FBI National Academy Graduation Ceremony last month. “We want a system that puts the needs of American families, taxpayers, and security first.”