A judge sentenced a Bangladeshi immigrant to life in prison Thursday, saying he plotted to carry out a "barbaric and heinous" plot to kill as many people as he could with a suicide bombing in New York City's subway beneath Times Square in 2017. Akayed Ullah, 31, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court by Judge Richard Sullivan, who said Ullah had carried out "about as serious a crime as there is," though he largely failed when the bomb attached to his chest barely exploded, burning him severely but largely sparing those around him from severe injuries. "A life sentence is appropriate," Sullivan said. The judge told him that life in prison was "less draconian than the sentence you were going to impose on yourself," the AP reports. Ullah, 31, with his tearful mother looking on from a courtroom bench behind him, apologized before hearing the sentence. "I can tell you from the bottom of my heart, I'm deeply sorry," Ullah said, adding, "I do not support harming innocent people."
Prosecutors had sought the life term for Ullah, saying the "premeditated and vicious" attack was committed on behalf of the Islamic State group. But defense lawyer Amy Gallicchio said Ullah deserved no more than the mandatory 35 years in prison. She said he had "lived lawfully and peacefully" before the December 2017 attack that she blamed on a personal crisis that left him isolated and suicidal. "He's not an evil man. He is not a monster," she said. The attack in a pedestrian tunnel beneath Times Square and the Port Authority bus terminal spared some pedestrians nearby from serious injuries, though the government noted that one bystander has lost 70% of his hearing. At trial, prosecutors showed jurors Ullah's post-arrest statements and social media comments, including when he taunted then-President Trump on Facebook before the attack. Hours after the bombing attempt, Trump derided the immigration system that had allowed Ullah—and multitudes of law-abiding Bangladeshis—to enter the US. ("I was angry with Donald Trump," Ullah said.)