Pakistani among Three Charged with Plotting NY Attacks
By Masood Haider
New York: Three people, including a Pakistani, have been charged with plotting attacks in New York City last year for the militant Islamic State (IS) group, US prosecutors said on Friday.
The planned attacks, which were thwarted by law enforcement, included detonating explosives in Manhattan’s Times Square and in the city’s subway in the summer of 2016, according to the office of Acting US Attorney Joon Kim in Manhattan.
The would-be attackers were identified as 19-year-old Canadian Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, 19-year-old Talha Haroon, a US citizen living in Pakistan, and Russel Salic, 37, of the Philippines, the US attorney said.
According to documents unsealed in the federal court in Manhattan on Friday, El-Bahnasawy and Haroon declared their support for the IS and were inspired by deadly terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels.
“We seriously need a car bomb at times square …. look at those crowds of people!” El-Bahnasawy said in one message to an undercover FBI agent posing as an IS supporter, according to court papers. He also expressed a desire to “shoot up concerts because they kill a lot of people”.
“We just walk in with guns in our hands. That’s how the Paris guys did it,” he wrote, according to the charges. He allegedly told the undercover officer that he wanted to “create the next 9/11”.
He bought bomb-making materials in Canada, including about 40 pounds of hydrogen peroxide, which can be used to make a powerful explosive, along with batteries, Christmas lights and thermometers. Haroon said that Times Square was “a perfect place to hit them”. He added, “I wanna kill … them in thousands,” the charges state.
Haroon and Salic have been arrested abroad, and their extradition to the US is pending.
El-Bahnasawy was arrested as soon as he arrived in New Jersey from Canada.
Salic, who told the undercover agent that he longed to go to Syria and join IS there, actually wired the money into a government account.
There is no sign that the terrorist group participated in the planning. But the charges said Haroon and El-Bahnasawy claimed approval from an IS cell in Pakistan.
The three face charges of multiple terrorism offences, including conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction and support of a terrorist organization.
El-Bahnasawy has pleaded guilty to seven charges and will be sentenced on Dec 12. – Dawn