A Bangladeshi immigrant was sentenced Thursday to life in prison after he set off a homemade pipe bomb in a tunnel between Times Square and Port Authority in December 2017, an act that federal prosecutors noted was “one of the few completed terror attacks in New York City since 9/11.”
The best-case scenario for defendant Akayed Ullah’s was 35 years behind bars, but Judge Richard Sullivan opted for life in prison.
The sentence was handed down after Akayed Ullah apologized in court, saying what he did was wrong.
“I can tell you from the bottom of my heart I’m deeply sorry for what I did,” Ullah said. “I apologize to NYC, to law enforcement, and to this country. I never support harming innocent people.”
Prosecutors said Ullah wanted to “terrorize as many people as possible” and they pushed for a life sentence. While Ullah was the only one seriously hurt in the blast assistant US Attorney Rebekah Donaleski told the judge “that happened despite the defendant’s best efforts.”
Surveillance video from December 2017 showed Ullah detonate a bomb that was strapped to his chest inside the Times Square subway station.
The bombing happened in that long, busy passageway between the 7th and 8th avenue lines.
Prosecutors say Ullah followed his uncle to the United States 10 years ago and became an ISIS sympathizer.
Ullah, who is now 31 years old, had expressed animus toward former President Trump in social media postings, but his attorney says there’s no evidence he ever communicated directly with ISIS.
Instead, she says he acted alone, describing an isolated, desperate man, who was trying to kill himself.
“His search for answers and meaning took him down a dangerous path,” defense attorney Amy Gallicchio said during the sentencing hearing. “Mr. Ullah is a human being. He is not an evil man, he is not a monster. He is a man loved dearly by his family.”
Judge Sullivan imposed the sentence, saying that while he did not believe Ullah was evil the act was.
“Your conduct here is truly heinous,” Sullivan told Ullah.
“You strapped a bomb to your person. You got on the subway and you went to the most crowded subway station at the most crowded time of day,” Sullivan said. “It seems to me that a life sentence is appropriate.”