Investigators described the plot as inspired by the ISIS terror group, but it was more aspiration than operational.
Meanwhile, Haroon allegedly asked an explosives expert for advice and planned to travel from Pakistan to help El Bahnasawy carry out the attack. He was arrested in May 2016 in New Jersey, where he had rented a cabin within driving distance of New York City, according to court documents.
An Isis-inspired plot to target NY landmarks and subways has been foiled, with a suspect arrested, reports say.
Haroon expressed his enthusiasm for a plan to attack the subway system, calling it a ideal target in a communication with the undercover agent in May 2016. He also researched upcoming concerts in the city and talked about picking a show in "a concert hall thats far away from cops".
El Bahnasawy sent the undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation agent an image of Times Square, saying that "we seriously need a auto bomb" to attack it and that he wanted to "shoot up concerts cuz they kill a lot of people". "That's how the Paris guys did it", he wrote, according to the charges.
Haroon told the agent he wanted to shoot people and set off suicide vests in the subway.
Abdulrahman el Bahnasawy, a 19-year-old Canadian citizen, purchased bomb-making materials to use in alleged attacks in New York City, including 40 pounds of hydrogen peroxide that he shipped undercover to New York. He also asserted the group should put a auto bomb in Times Square, prosecutors alleged.
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Prosecutors said they stopped three men based in the Philippines, Canada and Pakistan from carrying out attacks scheduled for the summer of 2016, according to The Associated Press.
All three men are charged with conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiring to commit terrorism and other related offenses, authorities said. The two others face a mix of similar charges, but have not pleaded guilty. Stephen Paddock killed 58 people before taking his own life in his hotel room. That parallels the Paris attacks, but also Brussels and Mumbai. There has been no evidence linking that incident to foreign terrorist groups.
The worldwide extremist plot took inspiration from the Paris attacks in November 2015, when an ISIS cell of Belgian and French jihadis launched a series of suicide bomb and shooting attacks around the French capital, killing 130 people.
El Bahnasawy also planned to target concerts. Twenty people were killed when a terrorist bomb exploded as the crowd was heading for the exits.
Authorities were able to catch the trio before they carried out the attack, but they did make several plans.
Officials said the plot was discovered months ago, prosecutors weren't prepared to take the information public until Friday because they wanted to be sure nobody else was involved.