A Bangladeshi Muslim immigrant who authorities allege was plotting to bomb Manhattan’s Time Square has been arrested without bail.
Ashiqul Alam was apprehended by the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes the New York Police Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation. According to prosecutors, knowingly Alam two illegal pistols with obliterated serial numbers from an undercover government agent. He is being held on weapons charges without bail.
According to prosecutors, Alam, a 22-year Bangladeshi citizen and legal permanent resident of the US, began attending meetings in August with an undercover agent in which he repeatedly admitted his plans to buy weapons, explosives and a suicide vest for terror attacks. He planned to execute his attack in Washington to kill a senior government official or in Times Square.
In a meeting with the undercover agent last September 11, Alam praised Osama Bin Laden, arguing bin Laden’s “mission is a complete success, thousands of American soldiers died and trillions of their monies gone in the war.”
Alam traveled with the agent in January to a shooting range in Pennsylvania, the complaint said. During a shooting lesson, Alam exclaimed when discussing ISIS, “I want to die fighting man.”
According to authorities, Alam underwent laser surgery to correct his vision because he believed the surgery would help him better carry out his attack.
“Let’s say we are in an attack, right, say that my glasses fall off. What if I accidentally shoot you? You know what I mean. Imagine what the news channel would call me the ‘Looney Tunes Terrorist’ or the ‘Blind Terrorist,’” Alam allegedly said.
Alam ultimately decided to gun down people and detonate explosives in Time Square, the complaint alleges. Undercover agents set up Thursday’s gun purchase in Brooklyn.
“As alleged, Ashiqul Alam bought illegal weapons as part of his plan to kill law enforcement officers and civilians in a terrorist attack on Times Square,” Richard Donoghue, US attorney for New York’s Eastern District, said in a news release. “What he did not know was that he was buying weapons from government agents, who were monitoring his plans and intervening to prevent those plans from escalating into deadly violence.”
Alam is accused of “purchasing weapons to kill New Yorkers, target an elected official and attack police officers,” William F. Sweeney Jr., assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office, said in a Friday’s news release.
“There is more to this case than just talk and the desire to carry out a terrorist attack,” Sweeney said. “Individuals who believe in the distorted and deadly propaganda of terrorist organizations and work toward acting on those deadly impulses are incredibly dangerous and unpredictable.
On Friday, Alam appeared in Brooklyn federal court for his arraignment, wearing a purple T-shirt, jeans and red and black sneakers. His attorney requested a bail package that included a $200,000 secured bond to be signed by Alam’s parents who were also in the courtroom.
A federal prosecutor warned there is no condition that would justify Alam receiving bail considering “the nature and circumstances of this offense are extremely serious.”
The magistrate judge ruled Alam poses a danger to the community, is a flight risk and denied bail.
Police believe he was working alone and it looks like a “lone wolf” situation.
Alam is slated to appear again in a Brooklyn federal courtroom June 21.
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