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Times Square terror plot suspect talked of suicide vests, bombs, complaint says

Ashiqul Alam bought two Glock 9mm semi-automatic pistols — its serial numbers obliterated in violation of federal law — from an associate of an undercover officer handling the sting, according to the criminal complaint.

Times Square is packed with people on Friday,

Times Square is packed with people on Friday, one day after a man was arrested for allegedly plotting to attack the tourist attraction. Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

A Queens man who bought illegal firearms and praised Osama bin Laden's terrorist attacks threatened to bomb Times Square, according to a criminal complaint released Friday.

Ashiqul Alam, 22, was arrested Thursday and arraigned Friday afternoon in Brooklyn federal court on a charge of knowingly and intentionally possessing firearms with obliterated serial numbers, punishable by up to 5 years in prison. 

"At this point I am finding that he is a danger to the community and I am going to order him permanently detained," Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak said.

Alam, a Bangladeshi citizen with a green card, purchased two Glock 9 mm semi-automatic pistols — its serial numbers obliterated in violation of federal law — from an associate of an undercover officer handling the sting, according to the complaint, based on meetings between Alam and the undercover officer between August 2018 and Thursday.

"Bin Laden's 'mission is a complete success, thousands of American soldiers died and trillions of their monies gone in the war,' " Alam told the officer and hailed the 9/11 attacks, the complaint said. 

Alam's defense attorney James Darrow said his client is a student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice with no criminal history who is working two jobs. Darrow said Alam lives with his parents, who were present in the courtroom.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Kessler told the court: "The defendant has taken specific steps to plan an attack in New York City … The defendant developed a specific plan to attack Times Square." 

Eastern District U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue said in a statement before the arraignment: “As alleged, Ashiqul Alam bought illegal weapons as part of his plan to kill law enforcement officers and civilians in a terrorist attack on Times Square. What he did not know was that he was buying weapons from government agents, who were monitoring his plans and intervening to prevent those plans from escalating into deadly violence."

Beginning in August, Alam allegedly discussed suicide vests, explosives and other modes of attack, saying he hoped to hit Times Square during a large event — he canvassed and photographed the area — or kill a senior government official in Washington, D.C., the complaint said.

"When it blows up, those balls explode and the metal goes everywhere. The more better the explosives, the more farther the shrapnel could go," he allegedly said.

Alam said of bin Laden: "He did his job. He did what he is supposed to do. Now it's up to us," Alam said, according to the complaint.

But he needed the undercover officer's help: While driving to a firing range, he told the officer that he needed assistance driving to and from an upcoming LASIK eye surgery appointment, the complaint said.

With Anthony M. DeStefano, John Valenti and John Riley


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