An undercover FBI agent has helped stop a terrorist attack in New York which included plans to bomb Times Square and the city’s subway system, officials have announced.
‘Shooting at civilians at specific concert venues’ was a potential option for the jihadist plot made by three men: a Canadian, a US citizen living in Pakistan and a Philippine citizen, a Department of Justice release said.
The chilling announcement was made at the end of the week which saw more than 50 people shot dead in Las Vegas at the Harvest 91 festival.
The undercover agent alleged one of the suspects stated ‘[these] Americans need an attack’ and he aspired to ‘create the next 9/11’.
The trio communicated through ‘internet messaging applications’ to plan the attack, the DoJ statement alleged, to take place during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, in the name of ISIS.
The FBI agent convinced the suspects he was an ISIS supporter prepared to take part in the deadly attacks with them.
It’s claimed Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, a 19-year-old Canadian, purchased bomb making equipment and helped secure a cabin within driving distance of New York City to build the devices intended for the attack.
Talha Haroon, a 19-year-old US citizen residing in Pakistan, is said to have met with explosive experts within the country and planned to travel to the US to carry out the attacks with El Bahnsaway.
Russell Salic, a 39-year-old from the Phillipines. is alleged to have wired money to the United States to fund the terrorist operation.
In May 2016 El Bahnsaway was arrested and pleaded guilty to seven terror-related charges and he’s currently awaiting sentence.
Haroon was arrested in September 2016 and Salic in April this year – both men are due to be extradited to the United States.
The planned attacks included detonating bombs in Times Square and the New York City subway system and shooting civilians at specific concert venues.
El Bahnasway is alleged to have sent the FBI agent a picture of Times Square, saying ‘we seriously need a car bomb’.
It’s understood the plot was intended to be a suicide mission with the claim Haroon told the agent the subway was a ‘perfect’ target and they should shoot as many people as possible, including ‘women or kids’, and ‘when we run out of bullets we let the vests go off’.
The DOJ statement claims Salic transferred approximately $423 to fund the attack with the intention ‘to continue sending additional money in support of ISIS in the future’.
Further communications between Salic and the undercover agent revealed Salic allegedly stated it ‘would be a great pleasure if we can slaughter’ people in New York City.
It’s believed the men were inspired by the 2015 attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, where 130 people were killed, as well as the 2016 bombing of Brussels airport and metro station which killed 32.
The three men face possible life sentences under charges including conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.