NEWS
12/11/2017 08:27 EST | Updated 12/11/2017 17:43 EST

Akayed Ullah Identified As Suspect In New York City Subway Explosion

The morning blast immediately gripped the commuter hub with chaos.

New York Police Department officers take security measures after an explosion occurred on Dec. 11, 2017.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
New York Police Department officers take security measures after an explosion occurred on Dec. 11, 2017.

NEW YORK ― City police captured an injured suspect in what they called a "terror-related incident" after a pipe bomb strapped to his body exploded in the transit system near Times Square during Monday's morning rush hour.

The improvised, low-tech device was affixed to the bomber's chest with Velcro and zip ties, and left the suspect the most seriously hurt of those who were injured, authorities said. The blast, about 7:15 a.m. in the subway near Eighth Avenue and 42nd Street, immediately plunged the commuter hub into chaos.

Police identified the suspect as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah, who they said is a U.S. resident from the Bangladeshi city of Chittagong. Ullah, who had no criminal record, allegedly triggered the bomb intentionally and mentioned the self-described Islamic State after his arrest. He last visited Bangladesh on Sept. 8, authorities said.

Ullah lived with his father, mother and brother in an area of Brooklyn that has a large Bangladeshi community, his neighbors told The Associated Press.

New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission via The Associated Press
This undated photo provided by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission shows Akayed Ullah, the suspect in the explosion near New York's Times Square on Dec. 11, 2017. Ullah is suspected of strapping a pipe bomb to his body and setting off the crude device in a passageway under 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, injuring himself and a few others.

Alan Butrico, who owns the house next door to Ullah and a locksmith business two doors down, told the AP: "It's very weird ... You never know who your neighbors are."

The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission said Ullah had a black cab/limousine driver's license from 2012 to 2015, after which it expired.

Police seized Ullah and took him to Bellevue Hospital. He had burns on his hands and abdomen as well as lacerations, authorities said.

Five other people have been treated at two Mount Sinai hospitals for minor injuries from the incident, the hospital said in a statement to HuffPost. Just two of the patients remained hospitalized as of 4 p.m., though all are expected to be released before the end of the day.

Authorities earlier described the victims' injuries as including headaches and ringing in the ears.

Police Commissioner James O'Neill called the explosion a "terror-related incident" during a mid-morning news conference. He declined to elaborate on Ullah's statement.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) described the explosive as a "low-tech device" and said the plot was isolated to one individual.

"This is one of my nightmares: a terror attack in the subway system. Luckily, the damage was minimal, but this was one in a growing pattern that we're seeing develop," Cuomo said on Spectrum News NY1later Monday afternoon. "The good news is that we were on top of it. We have the greatest law enforcement force on the planet, in my opinion, and the reality was not as bad as the fear."

Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking at an earlier press conference alongside Cuomo, stressed that terrorists "yearn to attack New York City."

"All we know of is one individual who, thank God, was unsuccessful in his aims," he said.

President Donald Trump said in a statement that the attempted attack proved the relevance of his executive order restricting the entry of travelers from eight countries into the United States. He also said the attempt showed the need for restrictions to so-called chain migration, which allows people to sponsor for visas of family members besides spouses and unmarried minor children.

"First and foremost, as I have been saying since I first announced my candidacy for President, America must fix its lax immigration system, which allows for too many dangerous, inadequately vetted people to access our country," the president said.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the White House on Dec. 11, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

The blast immediately sent the key transit hub into chaos. The A, C and E subway lines were evacuated, Sgt. Brendan Ryan told HuffPost, and the busy Port Authority bus terminal was cleared and temporarily shut down. Other trains bypassed Times Square and Port Authority stations.

The area where the explosion occurred is one of New York City's busiest tourist and commuter zones. The Times Square-42nd Street/Port Authority station serves a dozen subway lines and a variety of local and regional bus lines.

Witnesses recall the explosion

Rosemary Usoh, 40, told HuffPost she was on the third floor of bus terminal around 7:15 a.m. when at least a dozen police officers with automatic weapons shouted for people to evacuate the building immediately.

"They yelled at us to get out, that there was an explosion," Usoh said. "I was nervous. There were a lot of people running."

Alicja Wlodkowski, 51, told The New York Times that she was in a restaurant inside the bus terminal building when the explosion occurred.

"A woman fell, and nobody even stopped to help her because it was so crazy," Wlodkowski said. "Then it all slowed down. I was standing and watching and scared."

Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images
Firefighters gather at the site of a blast in New York City on Dec. 11, 2017.

Video shows emergency crews responding to the Port Authority bus terminal on 42nd Street. Police said the blast was in the subway system.

The Port Authority said the subway entrance outside the building on Eighth Avenue was closed "due to police activity." The bus terminal building was evacuated and shut down for several hours. It reopened later in the morning, but the Port Authority warned bus commuters to "contact their carrier for the most current information."

Police closed surrounding streets.

This story has been updated with new details on the suspect and comments from Cuomo and Trump.

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