NEW YORK (AP) — The conviction of a Bangladeshi immigrant who set off a pipe bomb attached to his chest in New York City’s busiest subway station was properly returned by a Manhattan jury, a judge said in a decision released Monday.
The December 2017 attack by Akayed Ullah, 30, of Brooklyn, fizzled when the bomb barely exploded, burning Ullah but causing mostly minor injuries to others.
Judge Richard Sullivan rejected several challenges by Ullah to his November 2018 conviction for the attack in subway tunnels beneath Times Square and the Port Authority bus terminal. Those challenges included a claim that he did not provide support to the Islamic State group.
Sullivan said in a decision dated Dec. 31 but placed in the public record Monday that evidence “amply establishes" that Ullah acted at the group's direction by “heeding the call of the organization’s propaganda and recruiting materials."
The judge noted that Ullah told arresting officers that he had viewed a video encouraging the kind of attack he tried to carry out. Sullivan said Ullah also told police that he carried out the attack “for the Islamic State."
Ullah faces a mandatory 30-year prison term and could be locked up for life at a sentencing that is currently delayed by restrictions put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Amy Gallicchio, a lawyer for Ullah, declined comment. Prosecutors declined through a spokesperson to comment.
Immediately after jurors left the courtroom after announcing their verdict, Ullah spoke out, saying he did not act on the Islamic State group's behalf but instead planned the attack because he was angry that President Donald Trump said he would bomb the Middle East.
At trial, Ullah was confronted with his post-arrest statements and social media comments, including when he taunted Trump on Facebook before the attack.
Hours after Ullah’s bombing attempt, Trump derided the immigration system that had allowed Ullah — and multitudes of law-abiding Bangladeshis — to enter the U.S.
Ullah got an entry visa in 2011 because he had an uncle who was already a U.S. citizen. Trump said allowing foreigners to follow relatives to the U.S. was “incompatible with national security.”
Sullivan, who now sits on the Manhattan federal appeals court, presided over Ullah’s trial when he was a district court judge.