A Bangladeshi immigrant accused of setting off a pipe bomb in the New York subway system made his first court appearance today via video from the hospital room where he is recovering from burns sustained in the blast. Akayed Ullah, 27, who migrated from Bangladesh some six years ago on a family visa, was presented with the charges laid by federal prosecutors on Tuesday. The charges include supporting a terrorist organisation, using a weapon of mass destruction, destroying property by means of fire or explosives, and using a destructive device during a violent crime. If convicted, he could get up to life in prison. Ullah remains hospitalised due to serious burns from the pipe bomb that was strapped to his chest when it partially detonated on December 11 in a subway terminal near the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal. Ullah appeared through the video before the court of US Magistrate Judge Katherine H Parker. Though he told investigators he carried out his alleged attack in the name of ISIS, he only answered ‘yes’ to questions from the judge about whether he understood the federal charges against him.
The federal criminal complaint released Tuesday says Ullah told authorities he “did it for the Islamic State”. “I can see you,” Ullah said when asked if he can see the judge. Ullah, who lived in Brooklyn, did not enter a plea. He is married to Jannatul Ferdous who lives in Bangladesh. Authorities have questioned her in Bangladesh. During his brief court appearance, federal prosecutors asked that he be held without bail. His attorney did not oppose it. The next hearing is scheduled for January 13.
Meanwhile, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M Nielson requested background information on Ullah. Grassley asked if Ullah had any criminal convictions. Ullah was 20-years-old when his uncle, a US citizen, petitioned for Ullah’s mother to receive a derivative visa as a sister of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident. Ullah was subsequently allowed to emigrate as a child of a sister of a US citizen benefiting from a controversial immigration occurrence known as chain migration.