Nearly three years after being convicted over the failed 2017 subway bombing, 31-year-old Ullah was sentenced on Thursday to life in prison, plus 30 years behind bars, by a federal appeals judge.
Judge Richard Sullivan, who presided over the case, rejected the defense’s argument and plea for mercy, telling the courtroom that Ullah had made a “calculated, premeditated decision to kill” as many people as possible.
“All in the name of an organization that is dedicated to spreading terror,” Sullivan remarked, emphasizing that Ullah had attempted to carry out the bombing attack in an effort to support the Daesh terror group. “This is about as serious a crime as there is.”
The judge further underscored that even though the bombing plan failed, it does not make Ullah any less at fault in his attempts to carry out the deadly act. Sullivan described the incident as a “truly barbaric and heinous crime."
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Up until the Thursday sentencing, defense lawyers had been calling on the judge to be lenient and issue the minimum sentence of 35 years in prison, explaining that Ullah had intended to only kill himself. The defense team indicated that their client was experiencing a depressive episode at the time.
However, federal defenders did not shy away from recognizing Ullah’s acts. In fact, the team acknowledged that Ullah had found a type of “hope” in messages spread online by the Daesh group and its supporters.
Prosecutors, on the other hand, argued that Ullah knew exactly what he was doing and was intent on causing the maximum amount of damage, especially considering he had picked a highly-trafficked subway station to detonate the explosive device.
The New York Times reported that supporting evidence for a harsh sentencing included a government letter that detailed an exchange in which Ullah had told a correctional officer that “more is coming, you’ll see.” The interaction unfolded some two weeks after he was taken into police custody.
At the time, it was reported that Ullah had attempted the bombing as retaliation for the US airstrikes against Daesh militants in Syria and elsewhere.
Ahead of his sentencing, Ullah told the courtroom that he recognized his actions were “wrong,” and that he does “not support harming innocent people,” according to quotes obtained by local outlet NBC New York.