June 7, 2019 By Laura Hanrahan
A Jackson Heights man was placed under arrest yesterday for buying illegal firearms as part of an elaborate plan to carry out a terrorist attack on Times Square.
Ashiqul Alam, a 22-year-old Bangladeshi citizen, was arrested on weapons charges Thursday, as he was putting the pieces in place to carry out a terrorist attack. He had been plotting the attack since August 2018, according to officials, wanting to target both police officers and civilians.
“As alleged, Alam bought illegal weapons as part of his plan to kill law enforcement officers and civilians in a terrorist attack on Times Square,” said U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue in a statement. “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.”
In January, Alam allegedly began taking recon trips to Times Square, using his cellphone to make videos while he looked for potential targets.
At the same time, Alam was believed to have begun looking into several types of weapons he could use to carry out an attack, including suicide vests and AR-15 rifles.
Just two months later, Alam unknowingly connected with an undercover police officer online and began discussing the acquisition of two Glock G19 pistols. The undercover officer informed Alam that the guns he wanted would have the serial numbers scratched off to which Alam allegedly replied “Oh, that’s good man.”
Over the ensuing months, Alam had repeated online conversations and in-person meetings with the individuals he believed were going to sell him the illegal guns, including one meeting in which he was shown hand grenades for purchase. Alam allegedly considered buying the grenades, saying they could “take out at least eight people.”
During this time, Alam also underwent Lasik eye surgery to correct his vision, allegedly reasoning that “Let’s say we are in an attack, right, say that my glasses fall off. What if I accidentally shoot you? You know what I mean. Imagine what the news channel would call me the ‘Looney Tunes Terrorist’ or the ‘Blind Terrorist.’”
On June 6, Alam met with an undercover cop who he believed would sell him the illegal firearms. Alam allegedly paid $400 toward the purchase and then asked whether he could also buy a silencer. He was then arrested.
“There is more to this case than just talk and the desire to carry out a terrorist attack,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney in a statement. “Individuals who believe in the distorted and deadly propaganda of terrorist organizations and work toward acting on those deadly impulses are incredibly dangerous and unpredictable. Mr. Alam allegedly then took the steps to follow through on his deadly impulse, purchasing weapons to kill New Yorkers, target an elected official and attack police officers.”
Alam, who police say was working alone on the plot, will be arraigned today in Brooklyn Federal Court.