Police stand guard inside the Port Authority Bus Terminal following an explosion near Times Square on Dec. 11, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
By Bridget Johnson
ISIS supporters online linked today’s Port Authority Bus Terminal explosion in New York to last week’s administration recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in a new propaganda poster.
The poster also revives ISIS backers’ holiday threats against Times Square, showing a hand holding an explosive device photoshopped over an image of the busy Broadway block.
“The recognition of your dog’ Trump’ Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, will make us recognize explosives as the capital of your country,” the message on the poster said.
ISIS supporters also cheered news of the attack on their Telegram channels.
ISIS’ official Amaq news agency had not yet issued any claim for the attack, in which three commuters suffered minor injuries as a bomber partially detonated his explosives. Police arrested Akayed Ullah, a 27-year-old Bangladesh native and legal permanent resident who lives in Brooklyn, as he allegedly tried to set off the rest of a bomb attached to his body with Velcro and zip ties. Ullah, a former for-hire driver, suffered burns to his abdomen.
“Preliminary investigation at the scene indicates this male was wearing an improvised, low-tech explosive device attached to his body,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said, refusing to elaborate on statements Ullah reportedly made to police indicating inspiration from ISIS. Police told CNN that Ullah said he was exacting revenge for the “incursion into Gaza.”
In the past, ISIS has been critical of terrorists who got captured instead of dying or escaping from the scene, including Manhattan Halloween terror suspect Sayfullo Saipov. ISIS has also had difficultly containing their disappointment when their lone operatives don’t kill anyone, such as last year’s Ohio State ram-and-stab by Abdul Razak Ali Artan.
Terror groups, from well-known outlets to more obscure militant organizations, pounced on President Trump’s decision to eventually move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, calling on supporters to wage jihad wherever they are in defense of the al-Aqsa Mosque.
Declaring “kiss our jihad” to “Zionist criminals” including the United States, al-Qaeda’s branch in Lebanon said all Muslims should stand in armed resistance and “not accept compromise,” adding “the nation of Islam has no choice but to liberate its land from the American-backed Israeli occupation” using “jihad with teeth” and “no iron except iron.”
In a statement issued in Arabic and English, al-Qaeda’s general command vowed that “America and those who live in America shall never even dream of peace until we experience it as a reality in Palestine.”
The Pakistani Taliban declared in a statement that “this message is becoming clearer with each passing day like rising sun as all non-believers of the world became one against Islam and Muslims and attacking Muslims on the ground all over the world… we call on Muslims all over the world that they sympathise with Palestinian people and stand with them against non-believers.”
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb called for “cleansing” the “abomination of the Jews” and called on Muslims “to support their brothers each according to his position and ability.” Al-Mourabitoun in Africa called for “soldiers of God” to mobilize, while Al-Shabaab urged Muslims to financially support jihad.
New Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement today that DHS “is taking appropriate action to protect our people and our country in the wake of today’s attempted terrorist attack in New York City.”
“We will continue to assist New York authorities with the response and investigation and we urge the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity,” Nielsen said. “More broadly, the administration continues to adopt significant security measures to keep terrorists from entering our country and from recruiting within our borders. The enemy we face is persistent and adaptive. But they should know this: Americans will not be coerced by terrorism, and we will not allow it to become the new normal. We will fight back aggressively and bring terrorists to justice.”