By Pooja Paidipalli
The man suspected in the New York City and New Jersey bombings was captured following a shootout with New Jersey law enforcement officers. CNN reported that authorities believe Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, was directly linked to the bombings, and the investigation continues to look into whether or not he had an accomplice. After initially assuming there was no link to international terrorism, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “We have every reason to believe this was an act of terror,” according to CNBC.
On Saturday, Sept. 17, a bomb exploded in Chelsea, N.Y., injuring 29 people. According to CNN, the bomb was caused by explosives placed in a pressure cooker that was left in a dumpster. The explosion thrust the dumpster nearly 100 feet in the air and shattered windows nearly 400 feet from the ground. A second device found, which contained similar components, included fingerprints that led the authorities to Rahami.
On the following night, USA Today reported that the Elizabeth, N.J., police department was notified about a bag in a trash can near a train station containing five explosive devices. Later that night, an FBI bomb squad sought to disarm one the bombs when it exploded. CNN said that the bomb technicians took the remaining devices to an FBI laboratory in Virginia for further investigation.
According to USA Today, after identifying Rahami through the fingerprints found on the unexploded N.Y.C. bomb, the FBI issued a wanted poster, warning the public that he “should be considered armed and dangerous.” On Monday, Sept. 19, following the poster release, a bar owner in Linden, N.J., recognized Rahami sleeping in his doorway and immediately called the police.
CNN reported that when law enforcement arrived at the scene, Rahami responded by opening fire with a handgun and shooting two officers before being captured. The foot chase concluded after the police shot Rahami multiple times. When arresting him, the police found a journal on Rahami in which he praised “Brother Osama Bin Laden” and declared that “the sounds of bombs will be heard in the streets.” Rahami was taken to the hospital for surgery and the two officers were also taken to the hospital to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
On Tuesday, Sept. 20, Rahami’s father told reporters with CNN that he talked to the FBI two years earlier after a violent domestic dispute that ended when Rahami stabbed a relative. Despite the father initially stating to the FBI that he believed his son was a terrorist and later worrying that his son was involved in criminal activity, the FBI never interviewed Rahami or placed him in any database or terror watch list.
CNN’s investigation showed that Rahami came to the United States in 1955 with his father, who was seeking asylum, and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2011. He travelled to Afghanistan and Pakistan in the past few years, and married a Pakistani woman when he was there in 2011. His wife was in the United Arab Emirates during the bombings and is working with U.S. officials.
Rahami was charged on Tuesday for five counts of attempted murder, second degree unlawful possession of a weapon and second degree possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose. Additionally, he was charged with destruction of property, bombing a public place and using a weapon of mass destruction. His bail is set at $5.2 million.