The attempted suicide bombing by Akayed Ullah in New York on Monday is the 101st Islamist plot or attack against the U.S. homeland since 9/11.
While the device did not succeed in causing the destruction that Ullah wished, the U.S. must redouble its commitment to stopping terrorists before they strike.
Ullah came to the U.S. from Bangladesh in 2011 on a family-based green card. According to authorities, he began radicalizing in 2014 and began researching bomb-making in the past year. Ullah watched various pro-Islamic State materials during this time.
Before the attack, he made several social media posts, including the statement, “[President Donald] Trump you failed to protect your nation,” and another indicating the attack was in the name of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
Ullah attached his homemade pipe bomb to his person and entered the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal on Monday morning and exploded the device. Thankfully, it did not cause serious injury to commuters. Ullah was then taken to the hospital with burn injuries around his abdomen.
When interviewed, Ullah claimed that he “did it for the Islamic State” and that he had attacked the terminal on a weekday to maximize casualties and terror.
This attack is the 23rd Islamist plot or attack since 9/11 to target New York City, the most targeted city by far. It is also the 12th attack or plot targeting mass transit systems. While it thankfully was not deadly, it is the 17th Islamist attack to be completed out of 101 plots. It is the sixth plot of 2017.
This plot also continues the trend of terror plots that are homegrown—that is, carried out by terrorists who radicalized in the U.S. This attack is the 89th plot or attack that was entirely or largely homegrown in nature. It speaks to the importance of assimilating immigrants into American society once they arrive here.
The government should not be dividing Americans into various identity groups, but should instead seek to affirm the “e pluribus unum” character of the nation.
This case also calls for continued improvements to our intelligence programs and agencies. The FBI must continue to improve the way it shares information with state and local partners, especially given the growth of terror investigations during the past several years.
Policymakers must also ensure that intelligence and law enforcement agencies have access to the intelligence they need to foil terror plots.
This includes reauthorizing the FISA 701 program in its entirety. Putting up walls between various agencies such as by adding additional warrant requirements for information that has already been lawfully collected will weaken the United States’ ability to find and stop terrorists.
The attack on the New York Port Authority terminal is a reminder that while ISIS is being driven from its strongholds in the Middle East, its followers and sympathizers, and those of other Islamist terror groups, remain dedicated to striking the U.S. homeland. The United States must remain vigilant.