A jihadist plot to attack New York City by staging coordinated shootings and bombings was foiled, prosecutors have revealed.
The alleged plot by three men to carry out the “the next 9/11” would have seen explosives detonated in Times Square and on the city’s subway, as well as shootings at concert venues.
One man in the US and two others in Pakistan and the Philippines are under arrest and face charges of plotting attacks they hoped to carry out in the name of Islamic State (ISIS).
The attacks were foiled last year with the help of an undercover FBI agent posing as an ISIS supporter who communicated with the three plotters on chat apps.
“The planned attacks included detonating bombs in Times Square and the New York City subway system and shooting civilians at specific concert venues,” a Department of Justice statement said.
The trio hoped to carry out attacks similar to those on the metro in Brussels and the Bataclan concert hall in Paris.
Police on Friday announced charges against Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, 19, a Canadian citizen detained in New York, Talha Haroon, also 19, a US citizen based in Pakistan and Russell Salic, 37, from the Philippines.
The trio planned to carry out the attacks in June 2016.
“NY needs to fall. It’s a must,” said Haroon, according to court documents.
El Bahnasawy sent the undercover agent an image of Times Square saying: “We seriously need to car bomb Times Square. Look at these crowds of people!”
The Canadian citizen also sent maps of the New York subway identifying lines they could blow up with explosives.
“When we run out of bullets, we let the vests go off,” he said, according to prosecutors.
In other messages he expressed a desire to “create the next 9/11” and “shoot up concerts cuz they kill a lot people…we just walk in with guns in our hands”.
El Bahnasawy purchased bomb-making materials, including hydrogen peroxide and acquired a cabin near New York to build explosives in.
Meanwhile, Haroon allegedly asked an explosives expert for advice and planned to travel from Pakistan to help El Bahnasawy carry out the attack.
It is believed Salic sent “approximately $423m” (€360m) and promised to supply more money.
Salic is accused of sending money to El Bahnasawy and Haroon to fund the plot.
El Bahnasawy was arrested in May 2016 and pleaded guilty last October to seven terror-related charges. He is awaiting his sentence.
Talha Haroon was held in Pakistan in September 2016, while Salic was arrested in the Philippines in April.
Both are due to be extradited to the US.