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Suspect in New York bomb attack said to have been inspired by Islamic State’s call for Christmas attacks

The suspect in a bomb attack in New York City’s transit system Monday told investigators he had been inspired by Islamic State’s recent call for attacks in Western cities around the Christmas holidays, a federal law enforcement official said.

The suspect, identified as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah, was injured and in custody after detonating a makeshift pipe bomb in an underground passageway near Times Square, injuring four people and snarling Manhattan transit.

New York Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill said Ullah was moving through a crowd wearing an “improvised low-tech explosive device” attached to his body, which he intentionally detonated.

The explosion occurred about 7:20 a.m. near the junction of two subway lines on 42nd Street in midtown Manhattan, stalling transit at one of the city’s most important commuter hubs just as the work week was beginning.

Several subway lines that pass through Times Square and the Port Authority Bus Terminal were evacuated and others diverted from 42nd Street.

The attack occurred just six weeks after Sayfullo Saipov, who immigrated to the U.S. from Uzbekistan through the diversity visa program, plowed a truck down a pedestrian path on Manhattan’s West Side, killing eight people and injuring a dozen others.

Ullah appears to have planned the attack on his own, and was “self-radicalized” after being admitted to the U.S. from Bangladesh in 2011, said the federal law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal assessments.

Supporters of Islamic State recently shared on chat apps an image of Santa Claus and a box of explosives in Times Square under the words: “We meet at Christmas in New York … soon.”

“This was an attempted terrorist attack,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

The suspect sustained burns to his hands and abdomen and was taken to Bellevue Hospital. Three other people in the area sustained minor injuries, such as ringing in the ears and headaches, New York Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.

A fourth person suffered minor injuries after falling to the ground, a spokesman for the New York Police Department said.

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