NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge on Tuesday set an Oct. 29 trial date for Akayed Ullah, the Bangladeshi man accused of attempting an Islamic State-inspired suicide bomb attack on a busy New York City commuter hub in December.
At a hearing in Manhattan federal court, U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan rejected a request by Ullah’s lawyers for a December trial date. Sullivan could still grant a later request to reschedule the trial.
Amy Gallicchio, one of Ullah’s lawyers, disclosed at the hearing that Ullah had recently been in solitary confinement at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan but was moved out of it on Friday. She declined to comment further after the hearing.
Ullah, 28, was arrested on Dec. 11 after trying to detonate a pipe bomb secured to his body in a pedestrian tunnel in New York’s subway system, according to federal prosecutors. The tunnel is in a station in Manhattan’s Times Square that is connected to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, which is used by commuters from New York’s suburbs.
Ullah was hospitalized for injuries suffered after the bomb ignited but failed to detonate as intended, while three other people suffered minor injuries, according to prosecutors.
The charges against him include supporting a foreign terrorist organization, using a weapon of mass destruction and carrying out a terrorist attack against a mass transit system. Ullah faces life in prison if convicted.
Ullah told police officers after the blast that he “did it for the Islamic State,” according to a criminal complaint filed on Dec. 13. Gallicchio said at Tuesday’s hearing that Ullah’s lawyers planned to file a motion to keep Ullah’s post-arrest statements out of the trial.
Prosecutors said Ullah, who has lived in the United States since 2011, began his self-radicalisation in 2014 when he started viewing pro-Islamic State materials online. Inside Ullah’s passport, which was recovered from his home, was a handwritten note that read: “O AMERICA, DIE IN YOUR RAGE,” according to the complaint.
Monirul Islam, head of the Bangladesh police’s counterterrorism unit, told Reuters shortly after the attack in December that his country had found no evidence linking Ullah to militants in his home country.
Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Peter Cooney