A New York man who talked about wanting to throw a grenade in Times Square has been arrested and was expected to be arraigned Friday on weapons-related charges, law enforcement officials told The Associated Press.
The two officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the charges hadn’t been made public yet, called the man’s threatening statements “aspirational” and said they never had reached a stage that endangered the public.
The man, who has been identified by three law enforcement officials to NBC News as 22-year-old Ashiqul Alam, of Jackson Heights, is expected to appear in Brooklyn federal court later Friday. Federal law enforcement officials say he will not face terrorism charges.
Times Square, which is in the heart of the Broadway theater district and is packed with tourists day and night, has been a target of attacks before.
In 2010, Faisal Shahzad, a U.S. citizen who had gotten explosives training in Pakistan, tried but failed to detonate a car bomb there. He was sentenced to life in prison.
In 2017, a Bangladeshi immigrant, Akayed Ullah, detonated a bomb in an underground pedestrian concourse linking the Times Square subway station to the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Only Ullah was seriously hurt, though bystanders were injured by shrapnel.
That same year, a man who told police he was high on drugs and hearing voices drove his car into the square’s crowds, killing a teenager and injuring around 20 people.
Police always have a heavy presence in Times Square and its sidewalks and plazas are partially protected with steel posts intended to stop speeding vehicles.