An East Elmhurst teenager was arrested on Thursday for allegedly telling undercover agents that he was planning an ISIS-inspired attack on the city, according to reports.
The suspect, who was identified in published reports as Awais Chudhary, allegedly exchanged messages with an undercover FBI agent on stating that he wanted to commit a knife attack somewhere in Queens. He was arraigned before the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn on Aug. 30 and was ordered to be held without bail.
If convicted, Chudhary faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment.
“As alleged, Awais Chudhary planned to kill innocent civilians on behalf of ISIS and record the bloodshed in the hope of inspiring others to commit attacks,” stated United States Attorney Richard P. Donoghue. “This office, together with the FBI, the NYPD and all members of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, will continue working tirelessly to identify ISIS sympathizers like the defendant and prevent them from carrying out their murderous intentions.”
Chudhary, who is a U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, allegedly began to exchange text messages with the investigators after allegedly expressing his wish to carry out the attack in the name of the Islamic terrorist group ISIS. Chudhary also allegedly wanted to record his act of terror to inspire others to commit similar acts.
In his messages, Chudhary allegedly identified potential locations of the attack as the pedestrian bridges over the Grand Central Parkway to the Flushing Bay Promenade (the Promenade) and the area of the World’s Fair Marina (the Marina). On Aug. 23, Chudhary allegedly told the undercover agent that he planned to use a knife “because that’s what he knows,” but if the undercover agent could instruct him on how to build a bomb, he would consider using an explosive device at a “mini-bridge over a busy road with many cars.”
The very same day, Chudhary allegedly sent a screenshot of a document entitled “Islamic State,” with the subheadings “Places to Strike,” “The Ideal Knife” and “Knives to Avoid,” to the undercover agent. The document also allegedly included a diagram of the human body with directions where to stab a victim. Chudhary also allegedly sent the agent videos of pedestrian bridges over the Grand Central Parkway, and said that he was considering throwing explosives over the fencing at vehicles passing below.
Charges say that Chudhary allegedly conducted multiple reconnaissance trips to the targeted locations. On Aug. 24, FBI agents allegedly surveilled Chudhary enter the Promenade in the vicinity of 27th Avenue and Ditmars Boulevard and take videos and photos with his cellphone of various locations, including the Marina, a nearby gas station, a doughnut shop and a security camera near the doughnut shop.
Between Aug.25 and Aug. 26, Chudhary allegedly ordered online a tactical knife, a mask, gloves and a cellphone chest and head strap to facilitate his recording of the attack. Chudhary was arrested on Aug. 29 as he attempted to retrieve the items from an online vendor’s retail location in Flushing.
A search of Chudhary’s house allegedly uncovered videos on Chudhary’s phone of Flushing Bay Promenade and the World’s Fair Marina, both of which are in walking distance of his home.
“An individual was arrested in a national security investigation today,” said a representative from the U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York. “There is no current public safety issue as a result of the arrest.”
Updated at 3:50 p.m.