Ashiqul Alam, 22, the US green-card holder from Bangladesh who had planned to attack Times Square, once expressed admiration for Osama Bin Laden and said he wanted to “carry on Bin Laden’s legacy of violent extremism”, The New York Times reported citing court documents.
According to the report, Alam expressed the sentiment to an undercover law enforcement agent and it was the start of a series of conversations regarding a potential attack on New York City that eventually led to his arrest on Thursday.
Alam was arrested after receiving two Glock 19 nine millimetre semi-automatic pistols with their serial numbers stripped off from undercover law enforcement officers, according to a complaint unsealed on Friday in Brooklyn federal court, the report said.
Officials, however, maintained that the 22-year old posed no immediate threat as he was being “monitored” by law enforcement agencies.
Alam was formally charged Friday in Federal District Court in Brooklyn with purchasing firearms with obliterated serial numbers. He was not charged with terrorism-related crimes.
The report added that he was quiet during his court hearing, where his lawyer, James Darrow, sought bail for his client.
“He has two jobs and is a student,” Mr. Darrow said. “He’d like to continue to do that.”
Magistrate Judge Cheryl L Pollak ordered him permanently detained, citing the seriousness of the accusations and calling him a “danger to the community.”
The investigation of Alam began last August, when he met with an undercover agent, the report said citing the complaint.
He had apparently stated his interest in buying weapons and explosives for an attack on New York City a number of times. He also expressed his admiration for terrorist groups, including ISIS and Al Qaeda, the complaint said.
Last September, he told an undercover agent that Bin Laden’s violent, extremist mission during the Sept 11 attacks was “a complete success,” according to the complaint.
The agent also accompanied him to several “recon” trips to Times Square, where Alam scouted potential targets and used his mobile phone to make recordings of the area, the complaint said.
In January, he had also allegedly told an undercover agent that he wanted to “die fighting” and once again mentioned buying a gun, according to the complaint.
He expressed his intention to use the weapon to target those areas in Times Square where most of the tourists gathered.
In subsequent meetings, Alam continued to tell the agent that he wanted to purchase firearms, officials said.
According to the complaint, when an undercover agent asked Alam what would make him happy, he responded, “seeing the flag of Islam on the Twin Towers or the Empire State Building”.