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ISIS wannabe scouted Flushing Bay promenade in Queens for knife attack: prosecutors

2019-08-30

A Queens teen plotted an ISIS-inspired knife attack along the Flushing Bay promenade and ordered an assortment of tactical gear online, prosecutors said Friday. Awais Chudhar, 19, is accused of attempting to provide material support to ISIS, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison (icenando/Getty Images)

A Queens teen plotted an ISIS-inspired knife attack along the Flushing Bay promenade and ordered an assortment of tactical gear online, prosecutors said Friday, detailing a lone wolf plot they said was on the verge of being executed.

Awais Chudhary, 19, is accused of attempting to provide material support to ISIS, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He’d only landed on authorities’ radar in the last week and was arrested Thursday. Chudhary told undercover investigators he wanted to launch his attack “very soon" and was considering Friday, prosecutors said.

Chudhary struck up an online conversation with an undercover officer posing as an ISIS supporter only seven days ago and admitted he’d pledged allegiance to the terrorist group, according to a criminal complaint. Chudhary, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistani who lives in East Elmhurst, shared with undercover agents that he planned to go on a rampage near a pedestrian bridge to the promenade at Ditmars Blvd. & 27th Ave, prosecutors charged.

He shared a document with the undercover officers featuring categories like “Places to Strike,” “The Ideal Knife,” and “Knives to Avoid,” according to prosecutors. He even allegedly had a diagram of the human body that pointed to where to stab victims.

“Awais Chudhary planned to kill innocent civilians on behalf of ISIS and record the bloodshed in the hope of inspiring others to commit attacks,” Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said.

The FBI secretly watched Chudhary as he filmed potential spots along the promenade for his carnage, including the World’s Fair Marina, a donut shop and a gas station. He told the undercover agents he was contemplating dropping “bucket bombs” on cars on the Grand Central Parkway from a pedestrian bridge, according to prosecutors.

Chudhary told an undercover officer he’d chosen the locations because they had “easier escape routes” and “more room” for his scooter. He was not afraid of dying, however. He allegedly texted the undercover, "May Allah not turn our hearts away or make us ever doubt or hesitate.”

The undercover agent commiserated with Chudhary as he perused an online retailer, which wasn’t identified in court documents. Churdhary texted that he preferred purchasing a knife because buying explosive materials drew attention, according to the complaint.

“Buying materials for explosives . . . bring suspicion by the crusaders and their miserable worshipers," he allegedly wrote.

Chudhary was arrested while picking up a knife and other gear for the attack from the online vendor’s retail location, prosecutors said. Among the gear he’d ordered: “a 420 High Carbon Stainless Steel Fixed Blade Survival Tactical Knife, a cellphone chest and head strap, tactical lightweight assault cargo pants, a black face mask and a pair of ‘Hard Knuckle Full Finger Tactical Gloves,’" according to the complaint.

“Awais Chudhary carefully planned, conducted reconnaissance, picked a target, & was in the process of obtaining the weapon. All he had left to do was strike,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said.

Chudhary was ordered held without bail because he presented a danger to the community. An email to his attorney was not returned.