ISIS terror plot thwarted in NYC previous year


Three Islamic State group sympathizers plotted to cause bloodshed at New York City concert venues, subway stations and Times Square before USA agents thwarted the global terror plot, authorities said Friday. All three men were already in some form of government custody either in the US or overseas, officials disclosed.

The defendants include Talha Haroon, a 19-year-old USA citizen living in Pakistan; Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, a 19-year-old Canadian citizen; Russell Salic, a 37-year-old Philippine citizen.

The would-be terrorist who admitted to plotting with two other men to attack concerts, subways and Times Square has a history of mental health issues and drug use, according to documents unsealed on Monday.

El Bahnasawy is a 19-year old Canadian citizen, who allegedly gathered the materials needed to create a bomb and assembled them in a cabin located within driving distance to NY.

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The three allegedly communicated through Internet messaging applications, to plot bombings and shootings in heavily populated areas of New York City during the Islamic holy month of Ramadhan in 2016, all in the name of ISIS, according to the charges.

The case has been ongoing for more than a year already, with El Bahnasawy being arrested in March last year, pleading guilty to seven charges.

The defense claims add a layer of complexity to a case that the government kept secret until Friday, when the US attorney's office in Manhattan announced that El Bahnasawy had been arrested in New Jersey in May 2016 before the plot could get beyond the planning stages. Proceedings for his extradition to the United States are now pending in Pakistan.

USA authorities allege the three men plotted to carry out bombings and shootings in heavily populated areas of New York City during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in 2016. The trio also talked about blowing up a auto in Times Square.

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El Bahnasawy was communicating with an undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation agent posing as an ISIS supporter and declared his allegiance to the terror group, court documents said. "That's how the Paris guys did it".

The letters also said a psychiatrist and a psychologist visited the 19-year-old in prison, but details related to both his drug addiction and his mental health issues are redacted. Salic, who also maintained a pro-ISIS social media presence, allegedly wired $423 to the undercover to help pay for the attacks on May 11, 2016, and told the agent he'd send more in the future. "He then allegedly wrote that "(I) t would be a great pleasure if we can slaughter" New Yorkers, according to the complaint.

Haroon called the NY subway the "perfect" target and suggested that they use assault weapons to begin the attack and follow it by detonating their suicide vests, the same tactic used by several of the Paris attackers.

Haroon was arrested in Pakistan in or about September 2016, and SALIC was arrested in the Philippines in or about April 2017.

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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 U.S. law enforcement that they will be extradited to the United States to face justice in a United States court", the U.S. Attorney's Office said in the press release. They're awaiting extradition to the United States, and it's unclear if they have attorneys.