A Bangladeshi citizen pleaded guilty at a US court on Friday for planning to carry out an attack at New York's Times Square.
He also admitted to knowingly receiving a firearm with an obliterated serial number in Brooklyn of New York.
Ashiqul Alam was sentenced to 60 months imprisonment pursuant to the terms of his plea agreement with the government, according to the official website of the United States Department of Justice.
Besides, he has agreed to the entry of an order of removal so he will be deported after completing his sentence.
According to the court filings, Ashiqul repeatedly expressed a desire to purchase firearms for use in a mass-casualty attack between August 2018 and June 2019. He identified two targets - Times Square and Washington, DC - in order to kill a senior government official and conducted several reconnaissance trips to Times Square. At the time, he used a cellular phone to make videos of the area and searched for potential targets.
Ashiqul Alam also conducted research about firearms on the internet and discussed purchasing firearms with an undercover law enforcement officer ("UC-1").
In March 2019, Ashiqul told UC-1 that he would be interested in buying a Glock 9mm pistol. UC-1 introduced Ashiqul to an "associate," who offered to help Ashiqul procure two illegal Glock G19 pistols.
In April 2019, Ashiqul underwent Lasik eye surgery, a procedure whose value he explained: "Let's say we are in an attack, right, say that my glasses fall off. What if I accidentally shoot you? You know what I mean. Imagine what the news channel would call me the 'Looney Tunes Terrorist' or the 'Blind Terrorist.'"
In May 2019, Ashiqul was told by "UC-1" that the firearms he wanted to buy would have obliterated serial numbers, and he replied, "Oh, that's good man."
On 6 June 2019, Ashiqul met the individual he believed was going to sell him firearms and was shown two Glock 19 semiautomatic pistols with obliterated serial numbers. He provided $400 towards the purchase of the two pistols and asked whether the Glock 19 pistol he had just purchased was compatible with a silencer.
Ashiqul was arrested shortly thereafter.
The proceeding was held before United States Magistrate Judge Robert M Levy.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Michael J Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI); and Dermot F Shea, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the guilty plea.
"With today's guilty plea, Alam has admitted to purchasing a firearm for use in a full-scale, mass-casualty attack in Times Square," stated United States Attorney Peace. "Protecting our national security and the residents of this city, state and nation from the threat of terrorist attacks at home or abroad continues to be one of the highest priorities of this Office and its law enforcement partners."
The government's case is being handled by the Office's National Security & Cybercrime Section. Assistant United States Attorneys David K Kessler and Jonathan E. Algor are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance provided by Trial Attorney Stephanie Sweeten of the National Security Division's Counterterrorism Section.