NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A counter-terrorism security expert said the capture of a suspect in today’s underground explosion at the Port Authority Bus Terminal could provide investigators with new information about potential conspiracies against the safety of New Yorkers and if a specific organization was behind today’s incident.
Monday’s pipe bomb blast left four people injured, including the suspect said to have been wearing a secondary explosive device.
“This is something that is a game changer,” said security expert Manny Gomez. “We’ve never had a suicide bomber on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, Gomez said. So if that’s the case, hopefully we won’t have copycats which is obviously the concern.”
“If they are successful in recruiting suicide bombers, we’re going to have a problem,” Gomez added.
“Now (police) have what was one of their worst fears: A bomber who is clearly prepared to take his own life to take as many other people as possible,” he said.
The suspect has been identified as Akayed Ullah, 27, who was wearing an improvised explosive device, Police Commissioner James O’Neill said. Ullah is from Bangladesh and was living in Brooklyn.
Gomez said investigators will now be interviewing Ullah’s friends and family as well as looking at international contacts.
“This is happening as we speak, fortunately we got this person alive, we will very quickly be able to identify who he is… to ascertain if this person had other people working with him and if there is a possibility of a conspiracy,” he said.
The fact one of the explosive devices was taken intact before being detonated will provide investigators with a wealth of information, Gomez said.
“The investigation is obviously tell by the forensics of the explosive device how sophisticated it is, how the wiring and types of materials are used in the pipe bomb,” he said. “That in and of itself will determine if this person helped in the creation of this bomb, the signature of the bomb itself will tell us what organization – perhaps even what terrorist bomb maker was the person who invented this bomb… That will tell us if this bomb was given to him by an outside source, or was he able to make this bomb himself.”
Police described Ullah as a “loser in his basement” and maybe he proved that because he couldn’t carry out his plan, CBS2’s Dick Brennan said to Gomez
Gomez also talked about the dangers of Lone Wolf or so-called “inspired attacker.”
“To date we have approximately 900 open investigations throughout the country of persons of interest that could potentially be plotting an attack. The big concern is people like this person who was apparently off the radar of law enforcement and in his basement literally cooking up a bomb to kill a lot of people.”
Gomez is a former special agent with the FBI who investigated terrorism and espionage cases as an agent in the National Security Division. He is also a former sergeant in the NYPD.
“This is the new norm and unfortunately it will happen again,” Gomez added.