Alleged Port Authority bomber Akayed Ullah was ordered detained by a federal magistrate during an unusual court hearing Wednesday conducted through a video feed from a hospital, where the accused Islamic State sympathizer is recovering from injuries suffered Monday.
Aa stone-faced Ullah, 27, was propped up under white sheets in his room at Bellevue Hospital Center, accompanied by his two public defenders. U.S. Magistrate Katharine Parker spoke to him from Manhattan federal court, where members of the media and public were able to watch.
During the 10-minute hearing, Ullah confirmed that the video hookup was working — “Yes, I can see you,” he told Parker — and gave only perfunctory answers to a series of questions about whether he understood his rights.
With his body entirely covered by bedding and only his bearded face visible, Ullah was stern and impassive, but did briefly close his eyes as Parker read the terrorism-related charges to him. His attorneys did not contest a prosecutor’s request for detention without bail.
Ullah, a Brooklyn man of Bangladeshi descent, is charged with setting off a pipe bomb in an underground commuting corridor near Times Square on Monday morning, injuring three and leaving him with burns and cuts that led to his hospitalization.
After the explosion, investigators found him slumped on the ground, injured by his own bomb, with a 9-volt battery in his pocket, fragments of metal pipe and the remnants of a Christmas bulb that may have been part of the triggering mechanism.
Prosecutors say he told agents and police he was inspired to carry out the attack to try to spread terror in retaliation for U.S. policies in the Middle East, and tried to launch the attack on a workday in hopes of increasing the number of his victims.
“I did it for the Islamic State,” he allegedly said when questioned.
According to a federal complaint, Ullah’s radicalization began in 2014. He was exposed to Islamic State propaganda over the internet, where he learned how to build explosive devices, the government said.
During a search of his residence Monday, officials say they recovered bomb-making materials, screws consistent with the shrapnel found near the site of the explosion, and a passport with handwritten notations including the words, “O AMERICA DIE IN YOUR RAGE.”
Ullah also had posted a Facebook message Monday stating, “Trump you failed to protect your nation.”
He is charged with providing material support to a terrorist organization, bombing a place of public use, destruction of property with explosives, use of a weapon of mass destruction, and use of a destructive device in a crime of violence. He faces up to life in prison, if convicted.
Parker set a Jan. 13 date for a preliminary hearing if Ullah is not indicted or the parties do not agree on a postponement before then.