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Federal Terror Charges Filed Against Suspect In Port Authority Blast

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The suspect who authorities said set off a pipe bomb in a passenger corridor under the Port Authority Bus Terminal has been charged in federal court.

Akayed Ullah was expected to appear before a magistrate judge after a criminal complaint was made public Tuesday. Federal authorities charged him with five counts, including providing material support to terrorists and using a weapon of mass destruction.

The federal criminal complaint says Ullah, who remains hospitalized with serious burns, told authorities he "did it for the Islamic State" and said Ullah posted on his Facebook account Monday before the attack: "Trump you failed to protect your nation."

"Yesterday, Ullah stood in the tunnels under the Port Authority plotting to kill. Today, he stands charged with federal crimes of terrorism," Joon Kim, acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said Tuesday.

According to the complaint, law enforcement officers also recovered a number of items from his home. The complaint says one of the items was a passport in Ullah's name with handwritten notations, including one that read: "O AMERICA, DIE IN YOUR RAGE."

The NYPD also charged Ullah Tuesday with supporting an act of terrorism, making at terroristic threat and weapon possession.

Speaking Tuesday on "CBS This Morning," Deputy Commissioner for Counterterrorism and Intelligence John Miller said Ullah wasn't on the NYPD's or the FBI's radar before Monday's incident.

"I think what we saw yesterday is something that could have been far, far worse," he said.

Police said it happened around 7:20 a.m. Monday in the passageway on West 42nd Street between 7th and 8th avenues, which connects the Port Authority Bus Terminal to the Times Square subway station.

"They were saying, 'it's a bomb, it's a bomb' and everybody was just running all over the place," said street vendor Lythia Scott.

Surveillance video captured the moment when, according to investigators, Ullah set off what law enforcement agents described as a poorly constructed pipe bomb. Investigators say he strapped the device to himself with Velcro and zip ties.

New details in the federal criminal complaint revealed the device included a nine-volt battery, a Christmas tree light bulb, a metal pipe and metal screws intended to cause maximum damage, CBS2's Janelle Burrell reported. Sources believe the bomb malfunctioned and only partially exploded.

Moments after the blast, a group of Port Authority officers raced in, holding Ullah down who was injured. One of the officers, who has previous military experience, is being credited with removing Ullah's vest that authorities said had the explosives strapped to him.

"What our first responders did today was another example of their ability to address a situation quickly, maintain it and make sure people are safe," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.

At least five other people who were in the area of the blast were also hurt. Authorities said they all took themselves to the hospital with minor injuries and were sent home to recover by late Monday evening.

After being taken into custody, Authorities said Ullah was advised of and waived his Miranda Rights.

Police say Ullah came to the U.S. from Bangladesh in 2011 on an immigrant visa, later becoming a legal, permanent resident. Investigators say he had been living in a building on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn.

It's believed Ullah acted alone, WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reported.

According to the complaint, Ullah constructed the pipe bomb in his Brooklyn home a week before the attack and began compiling the materials about two to three weeks earlier.

"Ullah admitted that he began researching how to build bombs about a year ago and had been planning this particular attack for several weeks," Kim said.

Authorities said he claimed to have planned the attack for a workday "because he believed that there would be more people."

According to the complaint, authorities believe Ullah's radicalization began in at least 2014 and said he viewed pro-ISIS materials online.

On Tuesday, Miller said it's getting harder to stop the so-called lone wolves.

"Where the conspiracy is within the confines of their own mind and that is a very hard place to get to," he said.

Authorities say Ullah traveled overseas to the United Arab Emirates and visited Bangladesh in recent months.

Police have asked anyone with information about Monday's incident to call the Terror Hotline at 888-NYC-SAFE.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump addressed the attack Tuesday while speaking at the White House, saying "these attacks underscore the dangers we face from around the globe."

He also reiterated his call to overhaul the nation's immigration system.

"The lottery system and chain migration, we're going to end them -- fast," he said. "Congress must get involved immediately and they are involved immediately and I can tell you we have tremendous support. They will be ended."

The president also thanked first responders who their "quick action."

In a statement sent to CBS2 late Monday on behalf of the Ullah family, Council on American-Islamic Relations New York chapter Albert Fox Cahn said the family is "heartbroken by this attack on our city" and by "the allegations being made against a member of our family."

"Our family like all families is committed to the safety and wellbeing of all New Yorkers.  But we are also outraged by the behavior of law enforcement officials during this investigation," the statement continued. "Today, we have seen our children, as young as 4 years old, held out in the cold, detained as their parents were questioned. One teenage relative was pulled out of high school classes and interrogated without a lawyer, without his parents. These are not the actions that we expect from our justice system, and we hope to see better in the days and weeks to come."

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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