Monday, September 2, 2019

Man was planning an attack on behalf of ISIS, say authorities

A 19-year-old Pakistani American who authorities say told undercover agents that he planned to conduct a terror attack in the name of ISIS in New York was ordered held without bail.

A criminal complaint filed Friday (Aug. 30) in federal court in Brooklyn charged Awais Chudhary, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

Chudhary, a resdent of Queens, N.Y., was arrested last week, and made his initial appearance in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein who ordered the suspect be held without bail.

“The defendant allegedly planned to conduct a deadly attack in New York on behalf of ISIS,” stated Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. “The National Security Division, working with our partners, will remain vigilant in our efforts to identify, disrupt, and hold accountable those who would conduct a terrorist attack on our soil."

“Awais Chudhary had accepted the call from ISIS to kill fellow New Yorkers in the city he called home,” stated NYPD Commissioner O’Neill. “He had carefully planned, conducted reconnaissance, picked a target, and was in the process of obtaining the weapon. All he has left to do was to strike. The FBI agents and NYPD detectives of the JTTF should be commended for the disruption of this plot. Their work almost certainly saved lives.”

According to court documents, last month Chudhary used social media to undercover law enforcement officers through text messaging that he planned to conduct a stabbing or bombing attack on behalf of ISIS. Chudhary also wanted to record his attack to inspire others to commit similar acts of violence. 

Chudhary identified the pedestrian bridges over the Grand Central Parkway to the Flushing Bay Promenade (the Promenade) and the World’s Fair Marina (the Marina) as locations for the attack. 

 On Aug. 23, Chudhary told an undercover agent that he intended to use a knife “because that’s what he knows,” but if the undercover agent could instruct him on how to build a bomb, he would consider using an explosive device at a “mini-bridge over a busy road with many cars.” 

On the same day, court records allege that Chudhary texted another undercover agent a screenshot of a document entitled, “Islamic State” with the subheadings: “Places to Strike,” “The Ideal Knife” and “Knives to Avoid.” The instructions included a diagram of the human body with directions where to stab a victim.

Chudhary conducted several reconnaissance trips to the targeted locations. On Aug. 24, 2019, FBI agents surveilled Chudhary enter the Promenade in the vicinity of 27th Avenue and Ditmars Boulevard and take videos and photos with his cellphone of various locations, as well as the Marina, a nearby gas station, a donut shop and a security camera near the donut shop.

Between Aug. 25 and Aug. 26, 2019, Chudhary ordered online a tactical knife, a mask, gloves, and a cellphone chest and head strap to facilitate his recording of the attack. Chudhary was arrested yesterday as he attempted to retrieve the items from an online vendor’s retail location in Queens.

If convicted, Chudhary faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment.

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