New York City bombing suspect Akayed Ullah was held without bail Wednesday during an initial court appearance held by video from his hospital bed as authorities in the U.S. and Bangladesh investigated any links he might have to terror groups.
Ullah, a native of Bangladesh who has lived in Brooklyn since 2011, was being treated for burns and cuts suffered Monday after he partially detonated a pipe bomb in a crowded subway pedestrian tunnel near Times Square. Three bystanders also suffered non-life threatening injuries.
The video from Bellevue Hospital for the presentment before federal Magistrate Judge Katharine Parker showed Ullah with his head propped up by a pillow and his body covered up to his neck by sheets, the Associated Press reported.
Ullah was formally notified that a five-count federal complaint on Tuesday charged him with bombing a public place, use of a weapon of mass destruction, providing support for a foreign terrorist organization, destruction of property by fire or explosives, and use of a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence.
The 27-year-old defendant could face a life term in prison if convicted of using a weapon of mass destruction.
Ullah, who allegedly told investigators he had been inspired by the Islamic State, attested to the accuracy of a financial affidavit provided to the court. Parker then approved the appointment of Amy Gallicchio, a federal public defender, to represent him.
Gallicchio consented to prosecutors' request for Ullah to be held without bail.
Ullah also acknowledged he had received a copy of the court complaint and waived a formal reading of the charges.
Parker scheduled a preliminary court hearing for Jan. 13. However, that proceeding will not take place if Ullah is indicted before the hearing date, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office said.
Ullah’s radicalization began as far back as 2014, and he viewed Islamic State's online material on how to carry out terror attacks, the court complaint charged. Authorities in Bangladesh said Wednesday they were conducting interviews with family members and others associated with Ullah there.
Ullah's wife, Jannatul Ferdous Jui, lives in the capital of Dhaka with the couple's infant son. Ullah's father-in-law, mother-in-law and maternal uncle were among those questioned Wednesday, but no connections to terrorism were immediately found, said Monirul Islam, chief of Bangladesh's counterterrorism agency.
“Akayed was a ‘homegrown’ militant in New York," Monirul Islam, chief of Dhaka's counterterrorism agency, told Banglanews24. "We suspect he got involved with militancy through internet there, but no proof of his militancy involvement was found here."
Still, Monirul said police were thoroughly investigating the case "to avert any negative" impact it might have on the many Bangladeshi expatriates living and working in the U.S.
“We have directly contacted with U.S. law enforcement officials in this regard," he said.
Ullah carried out the attack in protest of U.S. policies in the Middle East and elsewhere, the federal complaint stated. He specifically planned the attack on a workday in hope of hurting as many people as possible, the complaint alleged.
Authorities say the partial misfire of the pipe bomb, which was strapped to Ullah's body, may have saved scores of lives.