Three men conspired to detonate a car bomb Times Square and shoot up concert venues and subway cars in NYC last summer, according to an indictment that was unsealed by a federal judge today. One of the men, a Canadian, was arrested last year and pleaded guilty to a number of charges, while the two others—a U.S. citizen who was living in Pakistan and a Philippines Citizen—have been arrested but are awaiting trial.
Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon H. Kim announced today that three men, Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, Talha Haroon and Russell Salic were arrested and charged with various terrorism-related crimes stemming from a plot the three undertook to detonate bombs in Times Square and on the subway system during Ramadan, between June 5th and July 5th 2016.
El Bahnasawy, a 19-year-old Canadian citizen, allegedly bought bomb-making materials (40 pounds of hydrogen peroxide) in Canada and sent them to an undercover FBI agent, who also secured a cabin near New York City at his behest. Prosecutors say the cabin was intended to be used as a place to make bombs and practice shooting, but the plot was thwarted before it got to that stage. Haroon, a 19-year-old US citizen living in Pakistan, is alleged to have met with experts in explosives to help refine the attack and was planning on traveling to New York to assist El Bahnasawy. Salic, a 37-year-old resident of the Philippines, is accused of financing the plot by wiring money from the Philippines to Haroon and El Bahnasawy.
The three men, who were said to be communicating electronically during spring 2016 for most of the alleged conspiracy, allegedly believed they were planning the attack on behalf of ISIS. El Bahnasawy allegedly wrote told the undercover officer that he was hoping to "create the next 9/11," and Salic allegedly told the undercover officer "[i]t would be a great pleasure if we can slaughter" people from New York.
The three men allegedly talked about planning a number of different attacks, including setting off a car bomb in Times Square, an idea to "shoot up concerts cuz they kill a lot of people," like the attackers at the Bataclan in Paris, and shooting as many passengers as they could on the subway system. Haroon allegedly told the undercover officer "I wanna kill . . . them in thousands" and the attacks "will scar them for life knowing the soldiers of Allah are everywhere and ready... When we run out of bullets we let the vests go off."
El Bahnasawy and Haroon both allegedly told the undercover office they declared allegiance to ISIS, under the impression that he was in fact an ISIS-connected individual. El Bahnasawy traveled from Canada to New York in May of 2016, and was arrested by the FBI on the night of May 21st in Cranford, New Jersey. Haroon was arrested in Pakistan in October of 2016, and Saric was arrested in the Philippines in April 2017 and is awaiting extradition.
El Bahnasawy has pleaded guilty to charges including conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries, conspiracy to bomb a place of public use and public transportation system and conspiracy to provide material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, i.e., ISIS. The two others face a mix of similar charges, but have not pleaded guilty.
The first three charges, which have also been brought against Haroon and Saric, all carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.