On Monday, a would-be suicide bomber caused injuries to himself and three others when he set off a pipe bomb that blew up near New York City’s Port Authority bus terminal. After the incident, authorities said 27-year-old Akayed Ullah was inspired by the Islamic State (ISIS) and planned to detonate the bomb right in front of Christmas posters.
Ullah, an immigrant from Bangladesh, reportedly chose the site due to the Christmas theme, and aimed to remind Americans of the ISIS attacks to European Christmas markets.
NBC News tried to obscure the nature of the image. “Mindful of ISIS threats timed to Christmas, he decided to set off the device in a crowded subway passage near the Port Authority bus terminal because he noticed a holiday image there, the law enforcement officials said.”
The New York Times admitted the truth, however. “He chose the location because of its Christmas-themed posters, recalling strikes in Europe against Christmas markets, he told investigators, and set off his bomb in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria and elsewhere, several law enforcement officials said,” the Times reported.
In a darkly ironic twist of fate, Ullah also used a broken Christmas tree light bulb in the makeshift bomb, the New York Daily News reported. He also used a 9-volt battery, explosive powder, and a narrow length of pipe.
Ullah used the light as an initiator to ignite the powder and explode the bomb, thus turning a symbol of Christmas cheer and light into a weapon of terror and death.
ISIS supporters claimed the pipe bomb attack was a response to President Trump’s designation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The attack followed another attack in late October, when Uzbekistan native Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov drove a truck through Manhattan, killing 8 and injuring 15.
ISIS supporters have also released Christmas-themed threats directed against New York’s Times Square, and last year ISIS released a list of names and addresses of churches to attack on Christmas.
The most notorious Christmas market attack in Europe took place in Germany last year. Tunisian ISIS terrorist Anis Amri drove a truck into the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market in Berlin, murdering 12.
Last month, German police arrested six Syrian nationals suspected of having fought with ISIS in the Middle East, and allegedly connected with a terror plot against another Christmas market in Germany. While these suspects were released, German police discovered more information about the threat to the Christmas market.
Truck attacks have led to the erection of barricades and security in various cities across Europe. Earlier this month, the French city of Lyons canceled its own Christmas market as security costs ran up to nearly € 20,000.
Ullah’s attack thankfully did not claim any lives — not even his own — but it did raise the specter of further terror attacks during the Christmas season. Americans should learn from Europeans to be vigilant during the holidays.