Planned terrorist attack on New York was foiled by the FBI
The tragedy of the successful terrorist attacks on the unsuspecting and innocent citizens that become its victims is overwhelming. And since most of us are not privy to the minutiae of government oversight and protection of our countries, we often don't give much thought to the work that goes on behind the scenes.
The fact is, getting this kind of thing done isn't easy, as there are examples of attacks foiled before they have gotten past their preliminary planning stage. One such attack was set to occur in New York City by three men, but thankfully they were shut down by the FBI before they could do any harm. Now that the court proceedings are underway, the government are now free to reveal exactly what it was that they were planning.
Canadian citizen Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, who was only 19 years old, was planning to attack people in Times Square, concert venues, and the subway system, along with two others: Phillipine citizen Russel Salic, 37, and U.S. citizen Talha Haroon, 19. Prosecutors told the court session in New York that the three men wanted to target heavily-populated areas of the city in 2016.
El Bahnasawy entered America from Canada to rent a cabin in New Jersey, which he wanted to use as a bomb-making base of operations. He also bought 40 pounds of hydrogen peroxide, batteries, Christmas lights, thermometers and other ingredients commonly used in homemade bombs.
Salic financed this unfolding operation, sending over funds from the Phillipines. Haroon met with explosive experts in Pakistan, planning to join El Bahnasawy in the U.S. to carry out the attacks. They all communicated through a messaging app but were caught when they revealed their plans to an undercover agent who was posing as a member of ISIS.
El Bahnasawy messaged the above photo of Times Square to the undercover agent with the message: "We seriously need a car bomb at times square. Look at these crowds of people!" His other correspondence included suggestions such as the idea that they should "shoot up concerts cuz they kill a lot of people" and "We will walk in with guns in our hands. That's how the Paris guys did it."
Haroon suggested the subway as there would be "women and kids" to target, "when we run out of bullets we let the vests go off". The FBI and the Canadian Mounted Police monitored the men to discern whether they were serious about carrying out the attack. When El Bahnasawy travelled from Canada to New Jersey investigators found and arrested him before things could escalate to real action.
Haroon, who had also messaged the undercover officer ‘New York must fall’ (along with the above photo) was arrested in Pakistan in September 2016 and Salic was arrested in the Philippines in April 2017. They were arrested a few months ago kept under wraps as the FBI and NYPD Counterterrorism Unit sought out co-conspirators, but now it seems the case is closed and the details could be released to the public.
El Bahnasawy pleaded guilty to federal terror charges and is currently in custody, while the other two await extradition from foreign custody to face charges in the U.S.