A Bangladeshi immigrant who set off a pipe bomb in a Times Square-area subway station at rush hour was on a suicide mission to kill only himself, a defense lawyer told jurors in a closing argument on Monday, contesting claims by prosecutors that he’s a terrorist.
“He wanted to die. He wanted to take his own life and only his life,” attorney Amy Gallicchio said of Akayed Ullah, 28, of Brooklyn. “This is not a suicide bombing. This is not a terrorist attack.”
Gallicchio spoke after Assistant U.S. Attorney George Turner said Ullah sought “to inflict maximum damage, to terrorize Americans.”
Turner said Ullah purposely chose morning rush hour last Dec. 11 in the city’s busiest subway station to maximize casualties.
The failed pipe bombing occurred in a pathway linking the subway to the Port Authority bus terminal in Manhattan. The subway is beneath the busy Times Square area where many trains are linked.
The bomb fizzled, burning Ullah but sparing nearby pedestrians from life-threatening injuries.
The prosecutor said Ullah followed the propaganda of the Islamic State group online and wanted to follow its instructions to carry out a “lone wolf” terror attack on Americans.
“His goal was to injure and kill innocent civilians, to terrorize,” Turner said.
The prosecutor said Ullah told an investigator after his arrest: “I did it for the Islamic State.”
Authorities say Ullah’s radicalization began in 2014 when he started viewing materials online.
Gallicchio agreed Ullah opposed the U.S. government’s policies toward Muslims and the Middle East. But she said he did not try to set off his pipe bomb when he was on crowded subway cars with hundreds of people.
Instead, she said, he waited until he was in a largely isolated corridor, where it was caught on a security video stream that was shown to jurors.
“It was a disturbing act by a disturbed man,” Gallicchio said. “This is not a lone-wolf attack.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Shawn Crowley countered Gallicchio’s argument by saying Ullah would not have chosen to use a bomb if he only intended to kill himself.
“It was about martyrdom, not suicide,” she said.
“This is not a close case. You know what happened. The defendant carried out a terrorist attack for ISIS,” Crowley said, using the acronym the government sometimes uses to refer to the Islamic State group.
If convicted, Ullah could face life in prison.
Authorities have said Ullah taunted President Donald Trump on Facebook before the attack. The Republican president later demanded tightened immigration rules.
Bitter Weather, Frigid Wind Chills Set in – Next Up, the Snow
The second storm of the week could bring up up to 3 inches of snow to New York City and spots along the I-95 corridor on Thursday, Storm Team 4 says. And places well north and west of the city could see nearly half a foot.
Temperatures plunged overnight, and comparatively bitter, blustery conditions are expected through the day Wednesday, which is only expected to see a high near 40 degrees. Temps drop into the 30s on Thursday, though the wind chill will make you want to keep your hands in your pockets most of the day.
Overall, Thursday will feel more like January for most of the day as the coldest air of the season moves in, Storm Team 4 says.
Clouds will gradually start to float back into the area after midnight leading into Thursday, and will continue to fill in as the next storm system approaches. Much of the morning will stay cold, cloudy and dry before a wintry mix of precipitation arrives Thursday afternoon.
Given marginal temperatures near or just slightly above freezing, precipitation associated with this system could initially start off as snow, but will transition over to a wintry mix before completely changing over to rain Thursday night once milder air pushes in, Storm Team 4 says.
In general, the city and areas along the I-95 corridor could see a slushy 1 to 3 inches of snow accumulate by the evening commute, while areas south and east (and along the immediate coastline) will see mostly just rain out of this system. Colder places well to the north and west will see more snow before rain mixes in, with accumulations ranging anywhere between 3 to 5 inches (and possibly more across the higher elevations).
Storm Team 4 emphasizes the totals are likely to change as the storm gets closer. Keep checking with Storm Team 4 for the latest updates.
Regardless, hazardous traveling conditions Thursday evening will make for a rather slow and slushy commute home for many. By Friday morning, most of the area will see plain rain, with only the distant suburbs north and west seeing icy conditions. Highs bump back into the mid-40s on Friday and are expected to stay in that range through the weekend, Storm Team 4 says.
Biggest names in entertainment share thoughts on Stan Lee’s death at 95
Stan Lee, the co-creator of Marvel Comics and a plethora of its iconic characters, died at the age of 95 early Monday morning, Nov. 12.
Lee’s daughter reportedly confirmed the news of her father’s passing on Monday to TMZ. The outlet reports an ambulance went to Lee’s house in the Hollywood Hills early Monday, and that he was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where he died.
“Stan Lee was as extraordinary as the characters he created. A super hero in his own right to Marvel fans around the world, Stan had the power to inspire, to entertain, and to connect,” Bob Iger, Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO, said in a news release.
“The scale of his imagination was only exceeded by the size of his heart.”
The co-creator — with Jack Kirby — of Marvel, Spider-Man, Black Panther, the X-Men, The Avengers, Fantastic Four and many more had battled a number of health problems in recent years. He started Marvel with Kirby back in 1961, and wrote some of the most iconic comic characters and stories for many years.
Lee was born Stanley Martin Lieber in New York City — which served as the homebase for so many of his iconic characters –, and started using the name “Stan Lee” with a 1941 issue of “Captain America.”
In the past couple of decades, Lee continued to stay involved on the comic con scene and by having a cameo in so many movies featuring characters he had a hand in either creating or writing.
In the 1940s, he served in the U.S. Army’s Signal Corps and returned to comics in 1945 once his service was complete.
He became the head of Marvel Comics in the early 1970s as he transitioned from enthusiastic, lively writer to the person in command. Lee’s patented dialogue, character development and clever use of sound effects helped bring comic books out of its dark ages and into the state we see today.
His creations now make up the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is the most wide-ranging, profitable entity of its kind in the world.
As if his influence or impact on the entertainment industry wasn’t evident enough, scroll through the rest of this post for a collection of tributes and reaction to the news of Lee’s death on Monday. From Seth Rogen to longtime competitor DC Comics, the memories and comments came from every direction once word made the rounds:
Brooklyn woman spends year trying to prove she’s alive after being declared dead
For a woman in Brooklyn, the good news is that she’s alive. The bad news is that she’s been locked in a year-long battle to prove she’s not dead.
Over the weekend, Marzena Pogorzelska celebrated a most unusual anniversary – one year since the day she ‘died’.
“And after a whole entire year, they still cannot put me back to life,” she said.
It was hard enough to believe when we first met Marzena earlier this year.
She had been cut off from health insurance, her credit frozen, all because of an error by the Social Security Administration, linking her Social Security number to someone who actually had died.
It’s been quite a story to tell.
“People look at me like I’m not all there, or they look at me like wow, this is like a Lifetime movie,” she said.
When Eyewitness News first reported on Marzena, the federal government apologized and issued a letter for her to show creditors, saying she had been wrongly shown as deceased.
But still, every month she gets letters from one of her banks: “Please accept our condolences for the loss of Marzena Pogorzelska”, freezing her accounts all over again.
Her name evidently made it onto a national registry of dead people, meant to prevent identity theft by locking their Social Security numbers. And it works.
“It’s crazy, sometimes I wake up in the morning and say oh God, here’s another day,” said Marzena.
She says the stress of it all almost killed her for real. She suffered a heart attack over the summer and now her insurance won’t cover the $45,000 hospital bill because, you guessed it, on paper she was already dead.
And now with the close of another year, it’s almost time for this small business owner to file her tax return, which of course poses more questions.
“Even my accountant does not know what the IRS will ask for in this situation, because last year we filed for 2017 so I was only dead for two months,” she said. “Now I’m dead for the whole year so we don’t know.”
Death and taxes are about the only constants in her very real life.
We reached out to the agency that keeps track of the registry of people who died. But we didn’t get a response – because of the holiday.
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