Akayed Ullah, the 27-year-old suspect in Monday’s terror attack in Manhattan, appears to fit the profile of what many experts see as law enforcement’s biggest worry — the obscure loner who becomes self-radicalized and lashes out in a home-brewed attack.
A former licensed livery driver, Ullah apparently was under the radar of law enforcement until a homemade bomb authorities said he strapped to his torso detonated in the passageway near the Times Square subway station and Port Authority Bus Terminal.
As NYPD emergency service cops took Ullah to a hospital, police investigators and FBI counterterrorism agents swooped down on the house at East 48th Street in Brooklyn where he lived in a search for evidence and to make sure there were no other devices.
At news conference later Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that Ullah was admitted to the United States after presenting a passport displaying a F43 family immigrant visa in 2011. That classification means Ullah was the child of someone who is the sibling of a U.S. citizen.
A government source said that while Ullah drove limousines in the city, he had a clean record with no citations and only two traffic tickets.
Mitch Silber, former director of intelligence for the NYPD, said Ullah’s case looks like that of someone radicalized in the United States.
Ullah said he acted alone but had sympathy for ISIS, according to police sources.
A spokesman for the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission said Ullah held a TLC For-Hire Vehicle Driver’s License from March 2012 through March 2015, when it lapsed and was not renewed. As a for-hire vehicle driver, Ullah was an independent contractor.
By most accounts, Ullah, identified by police as an immigrant from Bangladesh, had little interaction with his Brooklyn neighbors, according to those who lived near him. What interaction he did have seemed unfriendly.
“He doesn’t talk to anybody, he doesn’t say ‘hi’ or anything,” said Kisslyn Joseph, 19, who has been living next door for the past month while visiting relatives. “I would say “good morning” or something and he just ignored me.”
Joseph, a resident of Grenada, said Ullah’s family members kept to themselves.
Alan Butrico, 55, is the owner of a local hardware store in the neighborhood and also owns and rents out the house next to Ullah’s home. Butrico said the suspect lived at the house with his mother, father and siblings.
“He would walk by my store all the time, block my driveway a few times. We had to tell him to move the car. That was really it,” he said of Ullah’s black sedan. “He doesn’t speak to anybody.”
Another resident of the neighborhood, Shawnda Brown, said she was stunned to learn a terror suspect lived nearby.
“The proximity is startling,” Brown, 39, said. “Jesus, literally, he had a bomb.”
With Mark Morales and Emily Ngo