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US slaps terror charges on Times Square bomb suspect

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27-year-old Bangladeshi immigrant, Akayed Ullah who attempted to detonate a homemade pipe bomb strapped to his body at a New York commuter hub during Monday morning rush hour. Photo taken by a New York City Authority employee.

NEW YORK — United States prosecutors on Tuesday brought federal charges against the suspect Bangladeshi man, accusing him of using a weapon of mass destruction in Monday’s bombing of a Manhattan commuter hub.

A 27-year-old Bangladeshi, Akayed Ullah, and self-described supporter of Islamic State, was also charged in a criminal complaint filed in US district court in Manhattan with bombing a public place, destruction of property by means of explosive and use of a destructive device.

Ullah planned to “murder as many human beings as he could … in support of a vicious terrorist cause,” acting U.S. attorney Joon Kim told a news conference after filing the charges.

New York police say Ullah set off a pipe bomb in an underground corridor of the subway system that connects Times Square to the Port Authority Bus Terminal at rush hour on Monday morning, injuring himself and three others.

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He told police interviewers after the blast that “I did it for the Islamic State,” according to court papers filed by federal prosecutors.

Ullah began the process of self-radicalization in 2014 when he began viewing pro-Islamic State materials online and carried out his attack because he was angry over US policies in the Middle East, prosecutors said.

New York officials on Tuesday also filed state charges against Ullah, as investigators in his home country questioned his wife.

Ullah was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, supporting an act of terrorism, and making a terroristic threat under New York state law, the New York Police Department said.

The federal charges, which are expected to take precedence over the state charges, carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Ullah remains in the hospital. His first appearance in the case will likely be there either later on Tuesday or on Wednesday.

On the morning of the attack, Ullah posted on his Facebook page, “Trump you failed to protect your nation.”

Ullah`s passport, which was recovered from his home, had handwritten notes, including one that read, “O AMERICA, DIE IN YOUR RAGE.”

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China conduct live fire drill along southeast coastline

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BEIJING — China’s military has conducted live-fire drills along the southeast coastline, state television reported, but it was unclear if these were the same exercises that had been flagged as taking place in the sensitive Taiwan Strait.

The government had said the drills would happen on Wednesday off the city of Quanzhou, in between two groups of islands close to China’s coast but that Taiwan has controlled since 1949 when defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island at the end of the Chinese civil war.

Chinese state media has said the drills were a direct response to “provocations” by Taiwan leaders related to what China fears are moves to push for the self-ruled island’s formal independence. China claims Taiwan as its sacred territory.

Late on Wednesday, Chinese state television showed footage of helicopters firing missiles during an exercise it said was happening on China’s southeast coast.

State television only showed pictures of helicopters, with no mention of ships or other military equipment such as tanks or amphibious assault vehicles.

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The exercises took place from 8 a.m. (0000GMT) until midnight, the report said, giving the same time frame for the previously announced drills in the Taiwan Strait.

The Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the exercise, and whether it was the same ones previously reported to be happening in the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan on Wednesday denounced the exercises, saying Beijing was using “cheap verbal intimidation and saber rattling” to threaten the island.

Taiwan is one of China’s most sensitive issues and a potential military flashpoint. China has ramped up military exercises around Taiwan in the past year, including flying bombers around the island.

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said on Wednesday afternoon two Chinese H-6K bombers had flown around the island, passing first through the Miyako Strait to Taiwan’s northeast and then back to base via the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines.

The latest Chinese military movements come during a time of heightened tension between Beijing and the island and follows strong warnings by Chinese President Xi Jinping against Taiwan separatism last month.

China claims Taiwan as its own and considers it a breakaway province.

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