On Friday afternoon, the Department of Justice announced that charges have been filed against three men who were all living outside the United States when plotting together to carry out terror attacks in New York City on behalf of ISIS.
The three men, who were all arrested in 2016, were planning to carry out their bombing attacks in the summer of 2016, during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Their intended targets included New York City landmarks such as Times Square and the city’s subway system, as well as civilians at specific concert venues.
The Justice Department just announced the Court’s unsealing of the charges Friday, filed against the following:
- ABDULRAHMAN EL BAHNASAWY, a 19-year-old Canadian citizen, was arrested in May 2016, has pled guilty to terrorism, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 12, 2017.
- TALHA HAROON, a 19-year-old U.S. citizen residing in Pakistan, was arrested in September 2016 in Pakistan and is awaiting extradition to the U.S. to face charges.
- RUSSELL SALIC, a 37-year-old Philippine citizen, was arrested in April 2017 in the Philippines and is awaiting extradition to the U.S. to face charges.
The FBI and the NYPD worked together to successfully thwart the terrorist attack, and an undercover FBI agent was able to convince the men that he was an ISIS supporter wanting to assist them in the attacks.
The three communicated and planned their terror attack through messaging apps on their cell phones; they also communicated with the undercover agent through the messaging apps.
BAHNASAWY reportedly told the undercover agent (UC) that he wanted to “create the next 9/11” and said: “These Americans need an attack.”
On May 1, 2016, he sent the UC detailed maps of the NYC subway system, showing exactly where he wanted to detonate the explosives. On May 12, 2016, he sent the UC a picture of Times Square, stating, “We seriously need a car bomb at Times Square. … Look at these crowds of people!” He also said he wanted to “shoot up concerts ‘cuz they kill a lot of people,” and explained, “We just walk in with guns in our hands. That’s how the Paris guys did it.”
BAHNASAWY bought the materials to make the bombs, including 40 pounds of hydrogen peroxide, batteries, Christmas lights, thermometers and aluminum foil, while in Canada in May 2016. He also helped secure a rural cabin within driving distance of New York City from which they could work to build their bombs and practice shooting.
HAROON met with an explosives expert in Pakistan to learn more about how to build bombs, and made plans to travel from Pakistan to New York, saying he hoped to “cause great destruction to the filthy kuffars by our hands.” On May 5, 2016, he told the UC that the subway was a “perfect” target, that they should shoot as many passengers on the train as possible, including “women or kids,” and that “when we run out of bullets we let the vests go off.” On May 9, 2016, he told the UC, “NY needs to fall. It’s a must.”
SALIC wired money from the Philippines to help fund the operation, and started using the alias “Abu Khalid.” He told the UC that “[i]t would be a great pleasure if we can slaughter” people in New York City. SALIC further conveyed to the UC that he would be praying to Allah for the success of the operation when the planned attacks were imminent.
BAHNASAWY traveled from Canada on May 21, 2016, to start preparing to carry out the attacks, and the FBI arrested him that night in Cranford, New Jersey.
In cooperation with authorities in Pakistan and the Philippines, the other two were arrested in their countries. Their extraditions to the U.S. to face charges are pending.
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