Akayed Ullah seemed an ordinary member of a Bangladeshi enclave in Brooklyn. He often prayed at a mosque in the Kensington neighborhood, where a few thousand of his countrymen reside. He worked for a car service. On Monday morning, Ullah, 27, strapped a pipe bomb to his body and set out to detonate it in a Times Square subway station, causing chaos among commuters and leaving what the New York Times calls “a trail of mystery that baffled those who knew him.” “He was a good guy,” said Mohammad Yousuf, a cabdriver who prayed with Ullah. “I can’t believe he would do anything like this.” Law enforcement officials quoted Ullah as saying that he set off the bomb in retaliation for American airstrikes in Syria and elsewhere, targeting members of the Islamic State. He said he had been radicalized online and had made a number of trips overseas in the past five years.
Ullah looked up online how to build the bomb and assembled it in his residence, purchasing all of the materials except the pipe, which he found at a job site where he was working as an electrician. Ullah lived in Brooklyn’s Flatlands neighborhood for seven years. On Sunday night, a neighbor said, a tenant heard the sounds of “big fighting” from Ullah’s house. Kensington is home to more than 3,000 Bangladeshi-born New Yorkers, making it the largest Bangladeshi enclave in Brooklyn. Mian Quadry, a representative of the Bangladesh Muslim Center in Kensington who did not know Ullah, said, “This is not what and who we are.”