NY bombing suspect charged with supporting act of terrorism

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Investigators in Bangladesh question Akayed Ullah's wife

DHAKA/NEW YORK New York officials yesterday said they charged a Bangladeshi man with terrorism, accusing him of setting off a pipe bomb a day earlier in a crowded Manhattan commuter hub.

Akayed Ullah, 27, was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, supporting an act of terrorism and making a terroristic threat under New York state law, the New York Police Department said, adding that the US authorities may also bring federal charges.

Investigators in Bangladesh were questioning Ullah's wife, according to two officials who declined to be identified.

They said the couple have a six-month-old boy.

"We have found his wife and in-laws in Dhaka. We are interviewing them," one of the police officials told Reuters.

New York police said Ullah set off a pipe bomb in an underground corridor of the subway system that connects Times Square to the Port Authority Bus Terminal at rush hour on Monday morning, injuring himself and three others.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called it an attempted terrorist attack, and US officials said it appeared to be a rare if not unprecedented attempt at suicide bombing on US soil.

The authorities in Bangladesh began to track down Ullah's family soon after news of the attack broke, and they first found a cousin, who revealed he had a wife and a baby.

The cousin, Emdad Ullah, told Reuters that Ullah and his family originally lived in the Chittagong region in southern Bangladesh, but had moved to the capital, Dhaka, years ago.

Ullah married a Bangladeshi woman about two years ago and she lived in Dhaka, the cousin said, adding that he was educated in Bangladesh before he moved to the US.

Bangladesh's police chief told Reuters that Ullah had no criminal record in his home country, which he last visited in September.

Ullah lived with his mother, sister and two brothers in Brooklyn and was a green card holder, said Mr Shameem Ahsan, the Consul-General of Bangladesh in New York.

US President Donald Trump said the attack emphasised the need for US immigration reforms.

"America must fix its lax immigration system, which allows far too many dangerous, inadequately vetted people to access our country," he said in a statement.

He criticised the visa programme that allowed Ullah to enter the US in 2011 because he had family members in the country, saying such family visas are "incompatible with national security". - REUTERS