New York City’s transit system was rocked on Monday morning by a pipe-bomb explosion underneath the Port Authority bus terminal near 42nd Street and 8th Avenue. Beyond the breaking news phase of the incident, authorities and news outlets have revealed numerous details of interest. Here’s what we know so far.
The Initial Response: The NYPD responded to the first explosion reports at around 7:30am EST. CNN first spoke with an eyewitness who commented upon the “cops at every entrance” into the subway station as the crowd fled the chaotic scene (which can be viewed on surveillance footage posted by the New York Times). The witness told CNN that he had heard “two distinct explosions” while listening to music on headphones. However, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has stated that only one explosive device was detonated, per first responders and investigators who subsequently arrived. The NYPD has stated that they are beefing up law enforcement’s presence throughout the city, but as of now, there are no other “specific or credible threats” against NYC.
Multiple People Injured, Including The Suspect: Four people sustained injuries that were “non-life threatening” in nature during the explosion. This number includes three bystanders and the suspect, a 27-year-old Bangladeshi male, Akayed Ullah, who is a Brooklyn resident and reportedly “acted in the name of ISIS.” The NYPD revealed that Ullah’s injuries were more severe than the rest — which is an expected outcome, given that that he was attempting a suicide bombing — and include burns and trauma to his abdominal region.
A “Terror-Related” Incident: NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill swiftly declared this to be a “terror-related incident.” Ullah reportedly used a “crudely-made pipe bomb” to carry out his attempted suicide bombing, and authorities believe that he was “inspired” by ISIS but haven’t determined whether he’s tied to a terror cell of the Islamic State, although further details will inevitably surface from within law enforcement interviews. So far, the New York Times reveals that Ullah wished to emulate ISIS Christmas attacks and chose the subway station for its holiday-themed decor.
Clues From The Explosive Device: Likewise, a further examination of the explosive device should reveal whether Ullah built it on his own or with the help of others. As of now, Police Commissioner James O’Neill has told reporters that Ullah appears to have used an “improvised low-tech explosive device attached to his body.” He intentionally detonated the device and, according to NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller, Ullah used “Velcro and zip ties” to strap the explosive to his body. CNN reports that Ullah told police that “he made the device at his workplace.” Ullah also apparently had a second device on his person, which did not detonate. The New York Times also reveals that the first device malfunctioned and did not discharge shrapnel, which mitigated the damage.
A “Game Changer” Of An Attack: CBS New York spoke with a security expert named Manny Gomez, who says that this incident could transform terror attacks as the United States knows them. “This is something that is a game changer,” said Gomez said. “If we’re going to have suicide bombers here like we’ve had overseas, that is going to be a problem because obviously … that’s never happened in the continental U.S. If they are successful in recruiting suicide bombers, we’re going to have a problem.” Indeed and as Gomez added, if terrorists who are intent upon taking their own lives become a regular fixture, police will have realized “one of their worst fears.”
This is a developing story, and we will provide additional details as they arrive.