Homeland Security

ISIS Acknowledges NYC Subway Bomber, But Refuses to Claim Ullah as Their Own

Akayed Ullah (New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission via AP)

The Islamic State acknowledged in the new issue of their weekly al-Naba newsletter that Monday’s New York subway bomber claimed to be their “soldier,” without explicitly claiming Akayed Ullah back.

The attack news was demoted even further back in the issue than the Halloween attack on a Manhattan bike path, in which Sayfullo Saipov is accused of killing eight people before his capture. That was on page 3 next to the editor’s note, while Ullah was relegated to the news briefs buried on page 11 of 12.

Ullah, 27, a lawful permanent resident from Bangladesh who lived with his family in Brooklyn, is accused of setting off the improvised explosive device during Monday morning rush hour in Manhattan’s Port Authority Bus Terminal. There were three injuries that consisted of ringing ears or headaches, and Ullah was burned on his abdomen from the pipe bomb detonation.

The criminal complaint says Ullah told investigators “I did it for the Islamic State,” while news stories cited law enforcement sources saying Ullah told them he had also read al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s Inspire magazine and found the bomb-making instructions online.

Inspire, which is published in English and circulated widely online, features more practical how-to advice for jihadists than ISIS publications, with explicit directions geared toward novices for making a variety of devices. The bomb recipe from “The AQ Chef” used by Ullah was published in the summer 2015 issue, including a Christmas light in the circuit.

Ullah arrived in the United States in 2011; the complaint says his radicalization began about 2014. “Ullah viewed pro-ISIS materials online, including a video instructing, in substance, that if supporters of ISIS were unable to travel overseas to join ISIS, they should carry out attacks in their homelands. He began researching how to build IEDs on the Internet approximately one year ago,” the complaint added, noting that on the morning of the attack Ullah posted on his Facebook page the message “Trump you failed to protect your nation” along with “a statement that he believed would be understood by members and supporters of ISIS to convey that Ullah carried out the attack in the name of ISIS.”

“Ullah carried out the Dec. 11 Attack in part because of the United States Government’s policies in, among other places, the Middle East. One of Ullah’s goals in carrying out the Dec. 11 Attack was to terrorize as many people as possible. He chose to carry out the attack on a work day because he believed that there would be more people.”

Recovered from Ullah’s residence, the complaint states, were “multiple pieces of metal pipes; pieces of wire and fragments of what appear to be Christmas tree lights; multiple screws consistent with the screws recovered at the scene of the December 11 Attack; and a passport in Ullah’s name with multiple handwritten notations, including: ‘O AMERICA, DIE IN YOUR RAGE.'” That’s a favorite slogan of ISIS trolls.

ISIS, which stresses that they want jihadists to die during attacks as “martyrs” or escape rather than be arrested, did not claim the attack as their own through their Amaq news agency, as they have with most other attacks.

The headline of today’s al-Naba news brief notes a “bomb attack on a gathering of the Crusaders” in central New York, and says “the attacker declares that he is an Islamic State soldier.”

Ullah is not named, only described as a “young Bengal man” who “blew up a homemade bomb” in downtown, “resulting in a number of Crusaders injured.”

They cite the “U.S. Crusader Police” as explaining that “a bomb exploded in a pedestrian tunnel reaching Times Square in downtown New York and a station for nearby buses, causing injuries.” The attack was “described as a terrorist” and ISIS noted the bomber was “injured in the same explosion.”

“Accused of planting the bomb at the site of the attack and exploding it … the prosecutor in Manhattan announced that the young man was being held” and was taken to a hospital for treatment.

ISIS noted that he carried out the bombing in “the peak hour” and “a large crowd of people was expected in the area.”

ISIS reported that Ullah said “he carried out his attack in retaliation for the Crusaders’ bombing of Muslims in Iraq and Sham” — the rapidly shrinking occupied caliphate territory in Iraq and Syria.

After the Oct. 31 attack, without mentioning Saipov by name, ISIS at least claimed him, saying in al-Naba that “one of the soldiers of the Islamic State of America” killed “a number of crusaders on a street in New York City” close to the site of the “Battle of 11 September.”

ISIS, which has in explicit detail encouraged followers to use larger and heavier trucks to inflict more damage, noted that Saipov used a “small truck” to kill eight people. They also noted that Argentinian and Belgian victims were among the dead.

The attack, they said then, “provoked terror within the Crusader America, which led them to increase security measures and tighten procedures for migrants entering America.”

In that issue, ISIS reiterated their claim of the Las Vegas mass shooting at the beginning of October, though federal officials have said they have found no links between gunman Stephen Paddock and Islamist terrorism.

“These attacks come in the context of the response … to appeals targeting the citizens of the Crusader countries participating in alliance against the Islamic State,” the article concluded.

The FBI complaint said Saipov had about 90 ISIS propaganda videos, including of executions, downloaded on his cell phone along with thousands of images. He reportedly asked for an ISIS flag to be hung above his hospital bed. A note was found in the truck saying in part that ISIS “will endure.”