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ISIS slogan was scrawled on Port Authority bomb suspect's passports: FBI agent

The passports were recovered in a search of Akayed Ullah's apartment, according to testimony at his federal trial.

Port Authority bombing suspect Akayed Ullah had ISIS

Port Authority bombing suspect Akayed Ullah had ISIS slogans scrawled on his passport, an FBI agent testified Thursday. Photo Credit: Composite: AFP / Getty Images / NYC TLC; John Roca

Jury deliberations are expected to begin Monday after both sides rested in the federal trial of the man accused of detonating a pipe bomb inside a subway corridor beneath Times Square.

The prosecution on Thursday wrapped up its case against Akayed Ullah, the electrician charged with making the bomb in his Brooklyn apartment, strapping it to his body and attempting to blow himself up in a passageway under 42nd Street on Dec. 11 during the morning rush hour.

Ullah, 28, told police that he carried out the attack on behalf of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. He and three others were injured but there were no fatalities.

After the prosecution rested, Ullah told U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Sullivan that he waived his right to testify in his own defense. His attorneys then rested their case without calling witnesses.

Ullah, a Bangladeshi-born immigrant, is facing up to life in prison on a six-count indictment charging him with providing material support to ISIS, use of a weapon of mass destruction, committing a terror attack against a mass transportation system and other crimes. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The final prosecution witness was Veronica Chavez, who testified she’s been unable to hold a job because of injuries suffered in the attack. The former seamstress has hearing problems and has sought the help of a therapist.

“There was dust, smoke and debris falling down,” said Chavez, through an interpreter, estimating the pipe bomb exploded 20 feet from where she was walking in the passageway. “My ears started ringing and hurting. … I was in shock.”

Chavez, 47, of Queens, testified that she eventually arrived at her employer of 14 years in Manhattan’s Garment District. “I was doing badly,” she recalled. “I couldn’t stop crying. I was trembling. … I’ve been walking through that [subway] tunnel for 20 years.”

Prosecutor Shawn Crowley asked Chavez: “Have you gone back to work again?”

Chavez, looking down, replied: “I am not working.”

During the four-day trial, jurors heard testimony from 17 prosecution witnesses, including another commuter injured in the attack, many first responders and FBI agents, and an expert on Middle Eastern terrorist groups.

Thursday, jurors were shown photographs of Ullah’s two passports, which were found in a jacket pocket in his apartment on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn. Both passports had variations of a slogan from an ISIS video written on them.

FBI Special Agent Andrew Mitchell testified that the slogan, “O America Die In Your Rage,” was scrawled on one of the passports. The other had the slogan, “Die In Your Rage.”

Earlier, the jury of eight women and four men was shown a clip of the ISIS video, “Flames of War II,” in which the phrase, “So die in your rage, America,” is displayed on a photograph of the U.S. Congress in session.

Ullah, in a police interview after his arrest in December, said he had watched the ISIS video, which was released less than two weeks before the bomb attack, according to testimony.

Still, Ullah attorney Julia Gatto said “Flames of War II” was not among the ISIS videos found on her client’s laptop computer by police. She also said “Die In Your Rage” can be found in Chapter 3 of Islam’s holy book, the Quran, without a reference to violence.

Ullah’s defense team has argued that he only meant to kill himself when he detonated the pipe bomb. He was “a deeply troubled, isolated man who wanted to take his own life. … He wasn’t an ISIS member,” Gatto said in her opening statement on Tuesday.

Under cross-examination on Thursday, the prosecution's terrorism expert Aaron Zelin of the think tank Washington Institute for Near East Policy agreed with another expert’s assessment that ISIS’ warriors in the West “are deeply troubled souls that at times are confused about their intentions and motivations.”

Gatto asked Zelin, “Do you agree or disagree” with the other expert’s assessment?

“I think it’s correct,” Zelin said.

Ullah’s defense team has argued that he didn’t commit all the crimes listed in the federal indictment. “The government has overreached here,” Gatto said Tuesday. “The defendant did not provide material support to ISIS.”

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