Queens Man Charged With Plotting ISIS-Inspired Attack

 In Domestic

A Queens man charged with plotting an ISIS-inspired knife or bomb attack was arrested on Thursday. The DOJ announced the arrest of Awais Chudhary, 19, on Friday. He is a Pakistani-born naturalized citizen (Daily Mail). He is charged with providing material support to a foreign terror organization, and is being held without bail. If convicted, he faces 20 years in federal prison.

Chudhary’s attack was planned as early as Friday, when the US Open would have been nearby.

Screenshot of map from Daily Mail

From the US Attorney’s Office: As alleged in the complaint, in August 2019, Chudhary communicated to undercover law enforcement officers through text messaging that he planned to conduct a stabbing or bombing attack on behalf of ISIS.  Chudhary also wanted to record his attack to inspire others to commit similar acts of violence. 

Chudhary identified 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) as locations for the attack.  On August 23, 2019, Chudhary told an undercover agent that he intended 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.”   

 On the same day, Chudhary texted another undercover agent a screenshot of a document entitled “Islamic State,” with the subheadings: “Places to Strike,” “The Ideal Knife” and “Knives to Avoid.”  The instructions included a diagram of the human body with directions where to stab a victim.  Chudhary also sent the undercover agent videos of pedestrian bridges over the Grand Central Parkway, and stated that he was considering throwing explosives over the fencing at vehicles passing below.

Chudhary conducted multiple reconnaissance trips to the targeted locations.  On August 24, 2019, FBI agents 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, as well as the Marina, a nearby gas station, a donut shop and a security camera near the donut shop.

Between August 25 and August 26, 2019, Chudhary 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 yesterday as he attempted to retrieve the items from an online vendor’s retail location in Queens.

There are many of these arrests over the last few years. Most of them appear to be stings conducted by law enforcement in an attempt to stay ahead of the plots. And most of the suspects appear to be naturalized citizens, like the Queens man charged in this case.

Featured photo: Court artist Jane Rosenberg’s rendition of Awais Chudhary in court on Friday.

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