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19-Year-Old Queens Man Arrested in Connection With ISIS Plot: Official

The Queens 19-year-old allegedly exchanged messages with an undercover agent saying how he wanted to commit a knife attack

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    Queens Man Arrested in Connection to ISIS Terror Plot

    The teen allegedly exchanged texts with an undercover agent about wanting to carry out a knife attack in the name of ISIS in Queens. NBC 4 New York’s Michael George reports.

    (Published Friday, Aug. 30, 2019)

    What to Know

    • A New York City man has been arrested after telling undercover agents his aspirations to conduct a violent attack in the name of ISIS

    • The Queens 19-year-old allegedly exchanged messages with an undercover agent saying how he wanted to commit a knife attack

    • The suspect allegedly ordered a knife through law enforcement and was arrested as he went to pick up the weapon

    A 19-year-old New York City man has been arrested after telling undercover agents his aspirations to conduct a violent attack in the name of ISIS, senior law enforcement officials said.

    The Queens man allegedly exchanged messages with an undercover agent saying how he wanted to commit a knife attack or bombing in the borough, according to a source familiar with the investigation. He started trading messages with the undercover agent on August 23 after claiming in an online chatroom that he wanted to carry out the attack in the name of ISIS, a source told News 4.

    The suspect has been identified as Awais Chudhary of East Elmhurst. He allegedly ordered a knife through law enforcement and was arrested as he went to pick up the weapon at the SkyView shopping center in Flushing, a source close to the investigation said. NYPD officers and agents with the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations and other federal agencies in the Joint Terrorism Task Force made the arrest. 

    According to a criminal complaint filed in the Eastern District of New York, Chudhary had pledged allegiance to the leader of ISIS and intended to carry out a knife or bomb attack of behalf of the terror network somewhere in Queens.

    AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File

    The pedestrian bridges over the Grand Central Parkway to the Flushing Bay Promenade and the New York World's Fair Marina were suggested as possible targets, and Chudhary intended to record the attack, the complaint read. He said in a message he would launch his attack during the late afternoon because "this is when it's most crowded."

    During his correspondance with the undercover agent, Chudhary asked multiple times about how he could avoid leaving finger prints, DNA, or any traces of evidence behind, and asked if the agent could teach him how to build a "bucket bomb," according to the complaint. It allegedly was his intention to possibly throw the explosive devices over the bridge onto passing cars below.

    While it was his intention to escape from the scene undetected, Chudhary at one point told the undercover agent that he was "ok" with dying in it.

    Chudhary also said he wanted to record his planned "lone wolf" attack on video, so he could inspire others to carry out similar attacks.

    Members of the NYPD and FBI were seen going in and out of Chudhary's house on Butler Avenue in Queens Thursday evening. One of the neighbors who lives in the multi-family home told News 4 Chudhary and his family keep to themselves. In fact, the neighbor said she had only seen the suspect twice in two years, saying he rarely goes out.

    The arrest "almost certainly saved lives," NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said.

    Chudhary was arraigned Friday. Judge James Orenstein ordered a permanent order for detention and wihtout bail. Chudhary's next court date is set for Sept. 13.

    He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted.

    Attorney information for Chudhary was not immediately available. 

    Agents from the FBI and JTTF had been onto to Chudhary since he hatched his plan, and he posed no threat to the public. The whole timeline of the case — from when Chudhary allegedly made the statements in the chatroom until he was arrested — only spanned about five days.

    The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York released a statement, confirming Chudhary had been arrested and saying there was no “public safety issue as a result of the arrest.”

    The arrest "almost certainly saved lives," Police Commissioner James O'Neill said.

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