NYC blast suspect Akayed Ullah aimed to avenge Muslim deaths, source says

The suspect in the New York City subway blast Monday told investigators he detonated a crude bomb after he spotted a holiday display and did in the name of ISIS to avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world, law enforcement officials said.

Akayed Ullah, a 27-year-old Bangladeshi immigrant, said he consumed terrorist propaganda and learned how to make the explosive device through online instructions, the officials said. He assembled it at his Brooklyn apartment they said.

There is no evidence Ullah, an electrician, had any direct contact with ISIS. But he said his anger over U.S. bombings in ISIS-controlled territory fueled his desire to carry out a suicide bombing, according to the officials.

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NEW YORK, USA - DECEMBER 11 : A New York Police Department (NYPD) officer chats with citizens after blocking a road with 'Do Not Cross' tapes after an explosion occured at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York, United States on December 11, 2017. (Photo by Ertugrul Cingil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, USA - DECEMBER 11 : A New York Police Department (NYPD) officer allows a girl through 'Do Not Cross' taped street after an explosion occured at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York, United States on December 11, 2017. (Photo by Ertugrul Cingil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, USA - DECEMBER 11 : New York Police Department (NYPD) officers take security measures after an explosion occured in New York, United States on December 11, 2017. (Photo by Ertugrul Cingil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, USA - DECEMBER 11 : A New York Police Department (NYPD) officer chats with a girl after blocking a road with 'Do Not Cross' tapes after an explosion occured at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York, United States on December 11, 2017. (Photo by Ertugrul Cingil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, USA - DECEMBER 11 : New York Police Department (NYPD) officers take security measures after an explosion occured in New York, United States on December 11, 2017. (Photo by Ertugrul Cingil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, USA - DECEMBER 11 : New York Police Department (NYPD) officers take security measures after an explosion occured in New York, United States on December 11, 2017. (Photo by Ertugrul Cingil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, USA - DECEMBER 11 : New York Police Department (NYPD) officers take security measures after an explosion occured in New York, United States on December 11, 2017. (Photo by Ertugrul Cingil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, USA - DECEMBER 11 : New York Police Department (NYPD) officers take security measures after an explosion occured in New York, United States on December 11, 2017. (Photo by Ertugrul Cingil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, USA - DECEMBER 11 : New York Police Department (NYPD) officers take security measures after an explosion occured in New York, United States on December 11, 2017. (Photo by Ertugrul Cingil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
FBI and police respond to a reported explosion at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on December 11, 2017 in New York. New York police said Monday that they were investigating an explosion of 'unknown origin' in busy downtown Manhattan, and that people were being evacuated. Media reports said at least one person had been detained after the blast near the Port Authority transit terminal, close to Times Square.Early media reports said the blast came from a pipe bomb, and that several people were injured. / AFP PHOTO / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
FBI and police respond to a reported explosion at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on December 11, 2017 in New York. New York police said Monday that they were investigating an explosion of 'unknown origin' in busy downtown Manhattan, and that people were being evacuated. Media reports said at least one person had been detained after the blast near the Port Authority transit terminal, close to Times Square.Early media reports said the blast came from a pipe bomb, and that several people were injured. / AFP PHOTO / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Police respond to a reported explosion at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on December 11, 2017 in New York. New York police said Monday that they were investigating an explosion of 'unknown origin' in busy downtown Manhattan, and that people were being evacuated. Media reports said at least one person had been detained after the blast near the Port Authority transit terminal, close to Times Square.Early media reports said the blast came from a pipe bomb, and that several people were injured. / AFP PHOTO / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
A fire truck arrives after a reported explosion at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on December 11, 2017 in New York. New York police said Monday that they were investigating an explosion of 'unknown origin' in busy downtown Manhattan, and that people were being evacuated. Media reports said at least one person had been detained after the blast near the Port Authority transit terminal, close to Times Square.Early media reports said the blast came from a pipe bomb, and that several people were injured. / AFP PHOTO / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Police and other first responders respond to a reported explosion at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on December 11, 2017 in New York. New York police said Monday that they were investigating an explosion of 'unknown origin' in busy downtown Manhattan, and that people were being evacuated. Media reports said at least one person had been detained after the blast near the Port Authority transit terminal, close to Times Square.Early media reports said the blast came from a pipe bomb, and that several people were injured. / AFP PHOTO / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Police and other first responders respond to a reported explosion at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on December 11, 2017 in New York. New York police said Monday that they were investigating an explosion of 'unknown origin' in busy downtown Manhattan, and that people were being evacuated. Media reports said at least one person had been detained after the blast near the Port Authority transit terminal, close to Times Square.Early media reports said the blast came from a pipe bomb, and that several people were injured. / AFP PHOTO / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
A fire truck arrives after a reported explosion at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on December 11, 2017 in New York. New York police said Monday that they were investigating an explosion of 'unknown origin' in busy downtown Manhattan, and that people were being evacuated. Media reports said at least one person had been detained after the blast near the Port Authority transit terminal, close to Times Square.Early media reports said the blast came from a pipe bomb, and that several people were injured. / AFP PHOTO / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Police and other first responders respond to a reported explosion at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on December 11, 2017 in New York. New York police said Monday that they were investigating an explosion of 'unknown origin' in busy downtown Manhattan, and that people were being evacuated. Media reports said at least one person had been detained after the blast near the Port Authority transit terminal, close to Times Square.Early media reports said the blast came from a pipe bomb, and that several people were injured. / AFP PHOTO / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Police and other first responders respond to a reported explosion at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on December 11, 2017 in New York. New York police said Monday that they were investigating an explosion of 'unknown origin' in busy downtown Manhattan, and that people were being evacuated. Media reports said at least one person had been detained after the blast near the Port Authority transit terminal, close to Times Square.Early media reports said the blast came from a pipe bomb, and that several people were injured. / AFP PHOTO / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Police and other first responders respond to a reported explosion at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on December 11, 2017 in New York. New York police said Monday that they were investigating an explosion of 'unknown origin' in busy downtown Manhattan, and that people were being evacuated. Media reports said at least one person had been detained after the blast near the Port Authority transit terminal, close to Times Square.Early media reports said the blast came from a pipe bomb, and that several people were injured. / AFP PHOTO / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Port Authority Police watch as people evacuate after a reported explosion at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on December 11, 2017 in New York. New York police said Monday that they were investigating an explosion of 'unknown origin' in busy downtown Manhattan, and that people were being evacuated. Media reports said at least one person had been detained after the blast near the Port Authority transit terminal, close to Times Square.Early media reports said the blast came from a pipe bomb, and that several people were injured. / AFP PHOTO / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Police and other first responders respond to a reported explosion at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on December 11, 2017 in New York. New York police said Monday that they were investigating an explosion of 'unknown origin' in busy downtown Manhattan, and that people were being evacuated. Media reports said at least one person had been detained after the blast near the Port Authority transit terminal, close to Times Square.Early media reports said the blast came from a pipe bomb, and that several people were injured. / AFP PHOTO / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Port Authority Police watch as people evacuate after a reported explosion at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on December 11, 2017 in New York. New York police said Monday that they were investigating an explosion of 'unknown origin' in busy downtown Manhattan, and that people were being evacuated. Media reports said at least one person had been detained after the blast near the Port Authority transit terminal, close to Times Square.Early media reports said the blast came from a pipe bomb, and that several people were injured. / AFP PHOTO / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Port Authority Police watch as people evacuate after a reported explosion at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on December 11, 2017 in New York. New York police said Monday that they were investigating an explosion of 'unknown origin' in busy downtown Manhattan, and that people were being evacuated. Media reports said at least one person had been detained after the blast near the Port Authority transit terminal, close to Times Square.Early media reports said the blast came from a pipe bomb, and that several people were injured. / AFP PHOTO / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Port Authority Police watch as people evacuate after a reported explosion at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on December 11, 2017 in New York. New York police said Monday that they were investigating an explosion of 'unknown origin' in busy downtown Manhattan, and that people were being evacuated. Media reports said at least one person had been detained after the blast near the Port Authority transit terminal, close to Times Square.Early media reports said the blast came from a pipe bomb, and that several people were injured. / AFP PHOTO / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Port Authority Police watch as people evacuate after a reported explosion at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on December 11, 2017 in New York. New York police said Monday that they were investigating an explosion of 'unknown origin' in busy downtown Manhattan, and that people were being evacuated. Media reports said at least one person had been detained after the blast near the Port Authority transit terminal, close to Times Square.Early media reports said the blast came from a pipe bomb, and that several people were injured. / AFP PHOTO / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Port Authority Police watch as people evacuate after a reported explosion at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on December 11, 2017 in New York. New York police said Monday that they were investigating an explosion of 'unknown origin' in busy downtown Manhattan, and that people were being evacuated. Media reports said at least one person had been detained after the blast near the Port Authority transit terminal, close to Times Square.Early media reports said the blast came from a pipe bomb, and that several people were injured. / AFP PHOTO / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Port Authority Police watch as people evacuate after a reported explosion at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on December 11, 2017 in New York. New York police said Monday that they were investigating an explosion of 'unknown origin' in busy downtown Manhattan, and that people were being evacuated. Media reports said at least one person had been detained after the blast near the Port Authority transit terminal, close to Times Square.Early media reports said the blast came from a pipe bomb, and that several people were injured. / AFP PHOTO / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Police and other first responders respond to a reported explosion at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on December 11, 2017 in New York. New York police said Monday that they were investigating an explosion of 'unknown origin' in busy downtown Manhattan, and that people were being evacuated. Media reports said at least one person had been detained after the blast near the Port Authority transit terminal, close to Times Square.Early media reports said the blast came from a pipe bomb, and that several people were injured. / AFP PHOTO / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
A police officers stand guard outside the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal after reports of an explosion in New York City, New York, U.S., December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
New York Police Department (NYPD) officers stand guard near Port Authority Bus Terminal after reports of an explosion in Manhattan, New York, U.S., December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Amr Alfiky
Police officers and FBI agents walk outside the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City, U.S. December 11, 2017 after reports of an explosion. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Police officers and an FBI agent stand outside the New York Port Authority in New York City, U.S. December 11, 2017 after reports of an explosion. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
New York mayor Billl de Blasio (R) looks on as New York governor Andrew Cuomo holds a press conference in the wake of an explosion at the Port Authority in New York City, U.S. December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Police officers stand guard outside the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City, U.S. December 11, 2017 after reports of an explosion. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
NEW YORK, USA - DECEMBER 11: New York Police Department (NYPD) officers take security measures after an explosion occured at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York, United States on December 11, 2017. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 11: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press briefing outside the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal, December 11, 2017 in New York City. The Police Department said that one person was in custody for an attempted terror attack after an explosion in a passageway linking the Port Authority Bus Terminal with the subway. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 11: New York City Police Department officers and other first responders work the scene near the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal, December 11, 2017 in New York City. The Police Department said that one person was in custody for an attempted terror attack after an explosion in a passageway linking the Port Authority Bus Terminal with the subway. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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He used Velcro and zip ties to attach the bomb — made from a pipe, a 9-volt battery, matches and Christmas tree lights — to his body, according to police. He found the pipe at a job site and bought the rest of the materials himself, he told investigators.

Mindful of ISIS threats timed to Christmas, he decided to set off the device in a crowded subway passageway near the Port Authority terminal because he noticed a holiday image there, the law enforcement officials said.

Ullah was taken to Bellevue Hospital with wounds and burns after the Monday morning blast, which was captured on security video and spread panic during the morning commute. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio said it appeared the suspect acted alone. "All we know of is one individual who, thank God, was unsuccessful in his aims," de Blasio said.

Hasan Alam, a former neighbor of Ullah, said he had not seen him since he moved about a year ago.

"I'm actually very shocked," he said. "Because he was a religious person and very quiet, not very outgoing."

Ullah came to the United States from Bangladesh with an immigrant visa on Feb. 21, 2011. He is a legal permanent resident with a green card.

A spokesman for the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission said he was a licensed cab driver from March 2012 to March 2015. More recently, he was working as an electrician. 

Law enforcement officials said Ullah, who has traveled abroad numerous times since moving to the U.S., didn't raise any red flags before Monday. He only had several traffic tickets on his record.

Soon after the explosion, police officers descended on at least three Brooklyn addresses connected to Ullah or his relatives — two in the Kensington section and one in Old Mill Basin.

A former neighbor in Mill Basin section in Brooklyn said the suspect lived there with an older couple and two other young men. She said she would see him leaving the house with what appeared to be camera equipment and assumed he was on his way to work.

"The family is very friendly, very nice, but he was quiet. Never talked to anyone, stayed to himself," the neighbor said.

NBC News reached a relative of the suspect by phone. He was unaware of the incident and declined to comment. 

 

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