Cops busted a Brooklyn man suspected of nearly blowing himself up in a botched subway bombing on Monday that injured three straphangers and shocked residents who never considered their neighbor could be an alleged terrorist.
A Flatlands local described 27-year-old Bangladeshi immigrant Akayed Ullah, who once resided in the neighborhood at E. 48th Street between avenues M and N, as a “shy and quiet” man whose inconspicuousness may have been a warning sign of his behavior to come.
“It’s the quiet ones you’ve got to watch out for,” said Alan Butrico, who owns the house next door to the one Ullah lived at as well as a hardware store at E. 48th Street and Avenue N.
Authorities apprehended Ullah after a “low-tech” improvised-explosive device strapped to his body ignited at 7:20 am inside an underground passage linking two busy Manhattan subway stations.
The suspect lived with his parents and brother at the Flatlands home, according to Butrico, who said he never saw police at the house next to his — until Monday, when dozens of investigators swarmed the block, which they cordoned off for hours after the explosion.
But Ullah’s family members claimed he moved out of the Flatlands house some time ago in a statement released after his alleged attack, in which they both expressed remorse for the incident and blasted authorities’ investigation techniques.
“We would like to note that it has [been] widely misreported that Akayed Ullah resides at an address on E. 48th Street, but this is incorrect, and he has not resided there for many years,” read the statement released by the family’s lawyer. “We are heartbroken by this attack on our city, and by the allegations being made against a member of our family, but we are also outraged by the behavior of law-enforcement officials who have held children as young as 4-years-old out in the cold and who pulled a teenager out of high-school classes to interrogate him without a lawyer, without his parents.”
Butrico said that his tenant who lives in the house next door to Ullah’s former residence recently complained of loud arguments coming from inside the home, including a shouting match that occurred the night before the alleged terrorist’s assault.
But there was nothing outwardly remarkable about the Bangladeshi man, according to Butrico, who said his only interaction with Ullah’s family was when they parked their car in front of his driveway.
“They didn’t care,” he said. “They felt like they owned the block.”
Investigators also stormed a Kensington apartment building at 679 Ocean Pkwy. following Ullah’s alleged assault, alarming locals who said they never thought they could have neighbors tied to terror.
“I’m scared,” said David Scoffe, who lives a few blocks away. “You don’t know who your neighbors are.”
Ullah caused more damage to himself in the bungled attack than he did to his intended targets, according to New York City Fire Department Commissioner Dan Nigro, who said police found the alleged terrorist with burns and lacerations to his abdomen and hands.
His victims, however, suffered minor injuries in the form of ringing ears and headaches, and all three checked themselves into hospitals, Nigro said.
Both New York City Police Department Commissioner James O’Neill and Gov. Cuomo described the detonation as intentional, but a New York Times report citing unnamed sources stated the device malfunctioned, and that the explosion failed to produce the shrapnel necessary to effect greater carnage.