A Pakistan-born teenager has been charged with attempting to provide material support to the terror group Islamic State after he planned a stabbing or bombing attack at busy locations around the New York City. Awais Chudhary, a 19-year-old naturalized US citizen born in Pakistan, was charged in a criminal complaint filed in the federal court in Brooklyn.
Chudhary was arrested on Thursday and made his initial appearance before US Magistrate Judge James Orenstein. He was ordered held without bail. "The defendant allegedly planned to conduct a deadly attack in New York on behalf of ISIS," Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said.
Chudhary planned to kill innocent civilians on behalf of the ISIS and record the bloodshed in the hope of inspiring others to commit attacks, prosecutors said. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years of imprisonment.
New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill said Chudhary had carefully planned, conducted reconnaissance, picked a target, and was in the process of obtaining the weapon. "All he has left to do was to strike," he said.
According to the complaint, in August 2019, Chudhary communicated to undercover law enforcement officers through text message that he planned to conduct a stabbing or bombing attack on behalf of the ISIS. Chudhary also wanted to record his attack to inspire others to commit similar acts of violence. The teenager identified the pedestrian bridges over the Grand Central Parkway to the Flushing Bay Promenade (the Promenade) and the World’s Fair Marina (the Marina) as locations for the attack.
Earlier this month, Chudhary told an undercover agent that he intended to use a knife "because that's what he knows", but if the undercover agent could instruct him on how to build a bomb, he would consider using an explosive device at a "mini-bridge over a busy road with many cars". On the same day, Chudhary texted another undercover agent a screenshot of a document entitled, "Islamic State" with the subheadings: "Places to Strike", "The Ideal Knife" and "Knives to Avoid".
He also sent the undercover agent videos of pedestrian bridges over the Grand Central Parkway and stated that he was considering throwing explosives over the fencing at vehicles passing below. Chudhary conducted several reconnaissance trips to the targeted locations. FBI agents surveilled Chudhary enter the Promenade in New York City and take videos and photos with his cellphone of various locations, as well as the Marina, a nearby gas station, a donut shop and a security camera near the donut shop.
The youth also ordered online a tactical knife, a mask, gloves and a cellphone chest and head strap to facilitate his recording of the attack. Chudhary was arrested as he attempted to retrieve the items from an online vendor's retail location in Queens.
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