Pinoy, two others in NY terror raps
NEW YORK—Three people, including Filipino jihadist Russel Salic, have been charged with involvement in a planned attack in New York City in 2016 during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, authorities here said.
The other two are Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, a 19-year-old Canadian citizen; and Talha Haroon, a 19-year-old US citizen residing in Pakistan.
The 2015 attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris and another on the metro in Belgium the following year served as inspiration for the planned killings in New York.
Those attacks were both claimed by IS, a brutal militant group that seized swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria and has inspired a series of deadly attacks abroad.
In Manila, the United States embassy in Manila confirmed that Salic was arrested in April 2017 in the Philippines after he and two other nationalities allegedly plotted attacks on New York City during the summer of 2016 in support of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.
“All three men have been arrested, and one has pleaded guilty,” the United States Department of Justice said on Saturday, which was shared by the US embassy in Manila.
On May 21, 2016, El Bahnasawy was arrested in New Jersey, after traveling to the United States from Canada in preparation for carrying out the NYC attacks.
Bahnasawy, a 19-year-old Canadian who purchased bomb-making materials and was arrested after traveling to the US, has pleaded guilty to “terrorism offenses,” the statement said.
Haroon, a 19-year-old American citizen living in Pakistan, allegedly planned to take part in the attacks, while Salic of the Philippines, 37, allegedly provided funds for the operation.
Haroon was arrested in Pakistan in or about September 2016, and Salic was arrested in the Philippines in or about April 2017.
“Bahnasawy, who has been in custody since he was arrested by the FBI in May 2016, pleaded guilty to terrorism offenses and is awaiting sentencing,” it added.
“Haroon and Salic have been arrested in foreign countries by foreign authorities in connection with these charges and it is the hope and expectation of this Office and US law enforcement that they will be extradited to the United States to face justice in a United States court,” it added.
Bahnasawy pleaded guilty on Oct. 13, 2016 to a seven-count Superseding Information before US District Judge Richard Berman.
The attacks were thwarted with the help of an undercover FBI agent posing as an IS supporter who communicated with the three plotters.
Haroon and Salic have been arrested abroad, and their extradition to the US is pending.
“Bahnasawy and Haroon identified multiple locations and events in and around New York City as targets of the planned attacks, including the New York City subway system, Times Square and certain concert venues,” the statement said.
Bahnasawy sent the undercover FBI agent an image of Times Square, saying “we seriously need a car bomb” to attack it and that he wanted to “shoot up concerts cuz they kill a lot of people.”
Haroon, meanwhile, told the agent that the subway would make a “perfect” target, and that suicide vests could be detonated after the attackers expended their ammunition.
Salic also began communicating with the FBI agent, eventually sending “approximately $423” to fund the attacks and promising to send more, according to prosecutors.
New York was the target of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people and led the US to launch an open-ended “war on terror” that included invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and military operations in a number of other countries.
These operations led, directly and indirectly, to tens of thousands of deaths, and cost the US hundreds of billions of dollars.
The most recent attack in New York occurred in September 2016, when a pressure cooker bomb exploded in the Chelsea neighborhood, wounding 29 people.