Charges against a U.S. citizen based in Pakistan, and two co-conspirators were unsealed in a U.S. court Oct. 6, accusing the three of plotting attacks in 2016 in support of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), on New York City. The attacks were thwarted by law enforcement according to a press release from the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. All three men have been arrested and one has pled guilty.
The defendants include Talha Haroon, a 19-year-old U.S. citizen living in Pakistan; Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, a 19-year-old Canadian citizen; Russell Salic, a 37-year-old Philippine citizen.
The three allegedly communicated through Internet messaging applications, to plot bombings and shootings in heavily populated areas of New York City during the Islamic holy month of Ramadhan in 2016, all in the name of ISIS, according to the charges. Bahnasawy allegedly purchased bomb-making materials and helped secure a cabin within driving distance of New York City to use for building the explosive devices and staging the NYC attacks. Haroon allegedly made plans to travel from Pakistan to New York City to join Bahnasawy in carrying out the attacks, and traveled within Pakistan to meet with explosives experts in furtherance of the plot. And as Haroon and Bahnasawy prepared to execute the NYC Attacks, Salic allegedly wired money from the Philippines to the United States to help fund the operation.
According to the charges, the planned attacks included detonating bombs in Times Square and the New York City subway system, and shooting civilians at specific concert venues.
Bahnasawy, who has been in custody since he was arrested by the FBI in May 2016, pled guilty to terrorism offenses and is awaiting sentencing. Haroon and Salic have been arrested in foreign countries by foreign authorities in connection with these charges “and it is the hope and expectation of this Office and U.S. law enforcement that they will be extradited to the United States to face justice in a United States court,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in the press release.
Haroon was arrested in Pakistan in or about September 2016, and SALIC was arrested in the Philippines in or about April 2017. Bahnasawy was arrested on May 21, 2016, in New Jersey, after traveling to the United States from Canada. He pled guilty to a seven-count Superseding Information before U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman. This Oct. 6, the Court unsealed the Superseding Information and Bahnasawy’s guilty plea, as well as the Complaint and Indictment previously filed against him. The Court also unsealed the five-count Complaint charging Haroon, and the seven-count Complaint charging Salic, based on their alleged participation with Bahnasawy in the plot to carry out the alleged NYC Attacks.
The charges against Haroon include – conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction; Conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries; Conspiracy to bomb a place of public use and public transportation system; and conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists, all of which carry a maximum sentence of life in prison. Other charges include conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists; and attempted provision and provision of material support and resources to terrorists, both of which carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. Proceedings for his extradition to the United States are currently pending in Pakistan.
Haroon and Salic are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.