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US Authorities Say they Thwarted Attacks in New York | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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New York City police officers (AP/Mary Altaffer)

An undercover FBI agent helped thwart a terrorist plot to attack targets including New York’s subway, Times Square and concert venues, authorities announced in unsealing the charges Friday.

Three people have been charged with involvement in the planned attacks, which were to be carried out in the name of ISIS during Ramadan last year.

The 2015 attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris and another on the metro in Belgium the following year served as inspiration for the planned killings in New York.

Those attacks were both claimed by ISIS.

Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, a 19-year-old Canadian who purchased bombmaking materials and was arrested after traveling to New Jersey in May 2016, pleaded guilty to “terrorism offenses,” the statement said.

Talha Haroon, a 19-year-old American citizen living in Pakistan, allegedly planned to take part in the attacks, while Russell Salic of the Philippines, 37, allegedly provided funds for the operation.

The attacks were thwarted with the help of an undercover FBI agent posing as an extremist who communicated with the three men.

Haroon and Salic have been arrested abroad, and their extradition to the US is pending. It’s not clear if they have attorneys.

“El Bahnasawy and Haroon identified multiple locations and events in and around New York City as targets of the planned attacks, including the New York City subway system, Times Square and certain concert venues,” the statement said.

Friday’s complaints did not name the concert venues.

El Bahnasawy sent the undercover FBI agent an image of Times Square, saying that “we seriously need a car bomb” to attack it and that he wanted to “shoot up concerts cuz they kill a lot of people.”

Haroon, meanwhile, told the agent that the subway would make a “perfect” target, and that suicide vests could be detonated after the attackers expended their ammunition.

Salic also began communicating with the FBI agent, eventually sending “approximately $423” to fund the attacks and promising to send more, according to prosecutors.

All three men face possible terms of life in prison on charges including conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said it assisted the FBI in the investigation.

“At no time was the safety or security of the public at risk,” it said.