Jurors will resume deliberating Tuesday in the federal trial of a Brooklyn man accused of detonating a pipe bomb inside a subway corridor beneath Times Square almost a year ago.
The jury of eight women and four men got the case of Akayed Ullah, 28, on Monday after receiving instructions from the judge and hearing closing arguments by the prosecution and defense teams.
Ullah is accused of building a pipe bomb in his Brooklyn apartment, strapping it to his chest and detonating it during morning rush hour on Dec. 11, 2017, in a passageway connecting two subway stations under 42nd Street.
A Bangladeshi-born immigrant, Ullah told police after the attack that he acted in aid of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. He has pleaded not guilty to all six counts in the federal indictment against him.
Four people were injured in the attack, including Ullah. There were no fatalities.
Monday, the jury spent about 2½ hours deliberating before adjourning until Tuesday.
In a move that surprised some in the Manhattan federal courtroom, jurors sent a note to U.S. District Judge Richard J. Sullivan about 20 minutes into their deliberations asking: “If we are not unanimous on all charges, what do we do?”
Sullivan, after consulting with the prosecution and defense, responded: “If, after a reasonable period of time, you are unable to reach a unanimous verdict on all counts … At that point, I will give you further instructions. However, since you have just begun jury deliberations it is premature to elaborate at this time.”
Ullah faces up to life in prison on charges of providing material support to ISIS, using a weapon of mass destruction, committing a terror attack against a mass transportation system and other crimes.
During the four-day trial, jurors heard testimony from 17 prosecution witnesses, including two commuters injured in the attack, many first responders, FBI agents, and an expert on Middle Eastern terrorist groups.
The jury watched video from Dec. 11 showing Ullah walking from his apartment on Brooklyn’s Ocean Parkway to a subway station, boarding and exiting two subway trains, detonating the pipe bomb in the 42nd Street passageway and lying on the ground injured.
The jurors also saw clips from some of the 10 ISIS videos taken from Ullah’s laptop computer. In one, two deaf ISIS fighters use sign language to say: “We will surely come and slaughter you by Allah’s permission.”
Ullah, an electrician, did not testify in his own defense and his lawyers called no witnesses.
Prosecutor George Turner, in his closing argument Monday, said Ullah had carefully planned the bombing on behalf of ISIS. Jurors were again shown Ullah’s two passports in which was scrawled the ISIS slogan, “O America, Die In Your Rage.”
“The defendant wanted to inflict maximum damage, to terrorize Americans,” Turner said. “He wanted to injure and to kill.”
The prosecutor also said Ullah told police he became “an ISIS soldier” because of his opposition to United States’ foreign policy, in particular, support for Israeli bombing raids of the Gaza Strip, home to nearly 2 million Palestinians.
“He wanted to punish America and he devoted himself to ISIS,” Turner said. “He became a terrorist.”
Public defender Amy Gallicchio, in her closing argument, said Ullah wasn’t a terrorist or an ISIS member.
“This isn’t a terrorist attack . …This is a public suicide,” she said, adding if Ullah wanted to kill others he would have built a bigger bomb.
Gallicchio also said some of the police testimony wasn’t credible because officers didn’t record all of their four-hour interview with Ullah, instead taking just five pages of written notes.
The NYPD officers “mischaracterized and misunderstood Mr. Ullah’s words,” she said.
The jury has asked to review two short videos from Ullah’s police interview and the testimony of the NYPD detective who asked the questions and wrote a report based on the interview.
As for the ISIS slogan in Ullah’s passports, Gallicchio said: “This is not a message to ISIS. This is proof of mental illness.”