NEW YORK— Four people were injured as a man set off an improvised explosive device at New York City’s commuter hub during rush hour on Monday.
In what New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called an attempted terrorist attack, a 27-year-old man denoted a low-tech bomb strapped to his body at around 7:20 a.m. local time in an underground passageway near Times Square, seriously wounding himself and injuring three others.
Police have identified the suspect as Akayed Ullah and have placed him in custody, New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neil said at a press conference held near the scene.
He added that the incident was captured on transit system video. A further review and witness interview is underway.
Police are calling for the general public to provide information about the suspect.
Authorities said three people in the immediate area sustained minor injuries such as ringing in the ear and headache.
Asked whether the suspect has connection with the Islamic State, O’Neil said, “He did make a statement but we are not going to talk about that right now.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the same press conference that the incident was an attempted terrorist attack and “thank God the perpetrator did not achieve his ultimate goals.”
He added that there are no additional known incidents or activities at this time. He assured the public that there are no credible and specific threats to New York City at the moment.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security confirmed that the suspect was admitted to the United States after presenting a passport displaying an F43 family immigrant visa in 2011. The suspect is a Lawful Permanent Resident from Bangladesh who benefited from extended family chain migration.
Immediately after the incident, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders tweeted that the president of the United States had been briefed on the explosion.
“This attack underscores the need for Congress to work with the president on immigration reforms that enhance our national security and public safety,” she told reporters in an afternoon news briefing.
Sanders added that the country “must move to a merit-based system of immigration.”
Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump, who usually likes to tweet when anything important happens, has not mentioned the explosion on his Twitter account.
The latest tweet he has is one that says New York Times’ story about him watching four to eight hours of television a day was false.
Analysts at the SITE Intelligence Group noted that the pro-Islamic State Maqdisi media group suggested a link between the attack and President Trump’s decision last week to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, The Washington Post reported.
Other media reports said Ullah might have carried out the attack due to Israel’s military strikes in Gaza at the weekend.
Despite global opposition and protests, Trump on Wednesday fulfilled one of his major campaign promises by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel, and demanded the State Department to develop a plan to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Experts argued that Trump’s decision, a bold step that could change the status quo in a highly sensitive region, is likely to draw rage and revenge, and more importantly, dampen the peace prospect in the Middle East.
The announcement has already triggered violent clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in the past days.
Times Square-42nd Street/Port Authority Bus Terminal is the city’s busiest station complex in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority system. More than ten trains lines use the location and it served 64.5 million passengers in 2016.
“When you hear about a bomb in the subway station, it is in many ways one of our worst nightmares. The reality turns out to be better than the initial expectation and fear,” said New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo.
He said the attacker obtained information on how to make a bomb from the internet.
The incident was the second in the fourth quarter of the year that New York City saw one individual conducted terror attack in the busiest areas of Manhattan.
On Oct. 31, eight people were killed and a dozen more injured after a truck plowed into pedestrians near the World Trade Center.
De Blasio called the incident “a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians.”
At the press conference on Monday morning, reporters asked police authorities why New York City seems to be seeing more frequent occurrence of terror attacks in recent days.
New York City Police Department Deputy Commissioner John Miller said approximately 26 plots have been prevented through intelligence investigation in New York City since the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
He added that authorities have put in enormous effort in preventing a significant number of plots and attacks.
He also mentioned the 26 plots that have been prevented were those “we can talk about.”
The incident sent commuters into a frenzy.
“Just was stuck in a running stampede at port authority bus terminal due to bomb scare. cops EVERYWHERE,” tweeted Chelsea LaSalle, a designer.
More New Yorkers seemed to be more disturbed by the disrupted rush hour transit than the explosion.
An M train was halted in the tunnel between Court Sq-23 St. and Lexington Avenue/53 Street for almost an hour from 8:35 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. due to train congestion led by police investigation in 42nd Street.
Most passengers had seen initial reports about the explosion and did not feel very concerned. Several passengers did get angry as they were stuck on the train and were not able to go to work on time. Xinhua-northboundasia.com