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Three men have pleaded guilty to terror charges related to a plot to carry out ISIS-inspired attacks in New York City, the US Department of Justice announced in a press release Friday afternoon.
The suspects, one of whom is Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, a 19-year-old citizen of Canada who pleaded guilty to terrorism charges, had apparently viewed New York landmarks and its busy subway system as possible targets, the DOJ statement said.
Talha Haroon, a 19-year-old US citizen who lived in Pakistan and 37-year-old Russell Salic who is a citizen of the Philippines were also facing charges.
The men wanted to carry out shootings and bombings throughout heavily populated areas of New York City in summer 2016. Some of the targets included Times Square and “specific concert venues,” the Justice Department said. New York hosts several high-profile concert events each year, like the Governors Ball and the Meadows Festival, which typically draw thousands of attendees over several days.
The suspects are facing multiple federal charges, including conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction. All of the men face possible life sentences, if convicted.
The revelation comes nearly one week after a man carried out the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more during the Route 91 country music festival on Sunday, October 1.
Investigators say there is no connection to militant groups in that case, but the gunman Stephen Paddock had meticulously plotted the attack, in part by collecting dozens of firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, and some explosives. He fired on a crowd of 22,000 concertgoers from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
Federal authorities said Paddock may have cased other venues in the months leading up to the Las Vegas attack, which has prompted law-enforcement and city officials to come to grips with the possibility that such venues could be vulnerable to copycat attacks.