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The attempted Manhattan subway terror attack: what we know so far

The former NYPD commissioner says preliminary info suggests it was done in the name of ISIS.

Ertugrul Cingil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

A man detonated a pipe bomb in a subway near Times Square at around 7:30 am Monday, in what New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is calling “an attempted terrorist attack.”

The attacker is originally from Bangladesh, and the Trump administration seized on the attack as a reason to call for changes to the American immigration system, arguing that family-based immigration, which allows US citizens and permanent residents to bring certain family members to the United States, is responsible for the attacker’s presence in the country.

Here’s what we know about the attempted attack.

What we know

  • The NYPD has identified the suspect as a 27-year-old Brooklyn resident from Bangladesh named Akayed Ullah.
  • Police said Monday evening that the attacker is in custody, according to the Washington Post.
  • Ullah told investigators he was inspired by ISIS attacks around Christmas in Europe, and he selected the location in New York because of its Christmas-themed posters, reports the New York Times. The suspect reportedly also told authorities he plotted his attack in response to US airstrikes in Syria and the region.
  • Police Commissioner James O'Neill said at a press conference Tuesday that the suspect intentionally detonated an "improvised low-tech explosive device attached to his body." He used Velcro and zip ties to do so, according to Deputy NYPD Commissioner John Miller.
  • The suspect injured himself and at least three other people. So far, none of the bystanders’ injuries reported appear to be life-threatening; only the attacker suffered serious injuries.
  • Former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton told MSNBC shortly after the explosion that the suspect “was supposedly setting the device off in the name of ISIS,” according to preliminary information from his police sources. Bratton said it was “definitely a terrorist attack.”
  • The explosion struck an underpass at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, one of the busiest transit hubs in New York. The entire Port Authority area was shut down and swarmed by police.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the suspect was “disgruntled” and learned to make a homemade bomb on the internet.
  • The White House is blaming “chain migration” — the family-based immigration system in the US — for the attack.
  • White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a briefing with reporters on Monday said the attack “underscores the need for Congress to work with the president on immigration reforms that enhance our public safety and border security,” later adding that if the president’s policy proposal to end “chain migration” had been in place at the time “the attacker would not have been allowed to come in the country.”
  • She declined to say whether she had any evidence that the suspect, who came to the United States seven years ago on a legal visa, was radicalized anywhere other than the US.
  • President Donald Trump in a statement released on Monday afternoon said the attempted attack “once again highlights the urgent need for Congress to enact legislative reforms to protect the American people.” He said America must “fix its lax immigration system,” citing his executive order restricting immigration from eight countries as “just one step forward in securing our immigration system.” Trump also called for those convicted of engaging in acts of terror to face “the strongest penalty allowed by law, including the death penalty in appropriate cases.”
  • This is the second suspected terrorist attack in New York in the past couple of months. On Halloween, an Uzbek national killed eight people as he drove a rental truck into a pedestrian and bike path along the Hudson River in Lower Manhattan.
  • Local outlet Spectrum News NY1 tweeted surveillance video of the moment of the explosion.

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