Around the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks last year, Ashiqul Alam voiced his admiration for their mastermind, Osama bin Laden, and said he wanted to carry on Bin Laden’s legacy of violent extremism.
An aspiring terrorist and Osama bin Laden acolyte were busted after pondering plots to slaughter Times Square tourists, take out a senior U.S. government official and blast the new World Trade Center with a massive rocket launcher.
Suspect Ashiqul Alam, 22, was held without bail Friday after his arrest on weapons charges in a federal probe involving a pair of undercover law enforcers as his “collaborators.” The native of Bangladesh appeared in court wearing blue jeans, a purple shirt, and red sneakers and answered questions politely before he was taken back to jail.
“There is more to this case than just talk and the desire to carry out a terrorist attack,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney.
“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.
A US green-card holder from Bangladesh was charged with illegally acquiring firearms as part of a plan to attack Times Square, one of mid-town Manhattan’s most crowded crossroads, federal officials said.
Ashiqul Alam, 22, from Jackson Heights in the city’s Queens borough, was arrested on Thursday after receiving two Glock 19 nine millimeter semi-automatic pistols with their serial numbers stripped off from undercover law enforcement officers, according to a complaint unsealed yesterday in Brooklyn federal court.
Alam, who is from Bangladesh, is not being charged with any terrorism-related crimes, reports The New York Times, quoting a law enforcement official.
During meetings with an undercover federal agent, Alam expressed support for the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York as well as the militant group Islamic State, according to the complaint. He also discussed using an explosive suicide vest in an attack.
“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,” US Attorney Richard Donoghue, whose office brought the charges, said in a statement.
With its millions of visitors each year, Times Square, often called the crossroads of the world, has been targeted by at least two bombers in recent years, despite its heavily-fortified police presence.
On May 1, 2010, police thwarted an attempted car bomb in Times Square, defusing a crude device made out of firecrackers and propane gas tanks.
A Pakistani-born US citizen pleaded guilty to the plot, admitting that he had received bomb-making training from the Pakistani Taliban and that the group, known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan had funded the plot. He was sentenced to life in prison.
In December 2017, a Bangladeshi man set off a homemade pipe bomb strapped to his body in a crowded underground pedestrian tunnel near Times Square. The man, Akayed Ullah, was convicted of six criminal counts, including use of a weapon of mass destruction and support of a terrorist organization.
On Friday morning, it was business as usual in Times Square, with a bustle of people on their way to work and tourists beginning to stream into the area.
Kate Fan, a 28-year-old charity worker visiting from her home in Guangzhou, China, said that she heard about the incident but still felt safe.
“We hear a lot of stories about New York being unsafe, but we feel like people sometimes exaggerate safety issues,” she said.
What about the other jihadists?
According to our record, there are at least 3 identified jihadist affiliates who are residing in Houston, Texas in the United States. Several newspaper reports said, M Sajjad Hossain, his wife Nahida Parvin Neeru and son Asif Hossain are directly connected to radical Islamic militancy. Sajjad has been working for Pakistani spy agency Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) for past few decades and had gone to the US with the assignment of recruiting new members as well as radicalizing various individuals in that country.