Ahmad Khan Rahami

Ahmad Khan Rahami carried out the New York and New Jersey bombings, planted on September 17 and September 18, 2016.Marc Santora, William K. Rashbaum, Al Baker, and Adam Goldman, “Ahmad Khan Rahami Is Arrested in Manhattan and New Jersey Bombings,” New York Times, September 19, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/20/nyregion/nyc-nj-explosions-ahmad-khan-rahami.html. Rahami—an Afghan-born U.S. citizen and former resident of Elizabeth, New Jersey—was convicted of planting four improvised explosive devices (IEDs)Marc Santora, William K. Rashbaum, Al Baker, and Adam Goldman, “Ahmad Khan Rahami Is Arrested in Manhattan and New Jersey Bombings,” New York Times, September 19, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/20/nyregion/nyc-nj-explosions-ahmad-khan-rahami.html. and injuring 33 people over the course of three days: 31 people in the pressure-cooker bomb that exploded in New York City’s Chelsea district on September 17, and two police officers in a New Jersey shootout on September 19.Marc Santora, William K. Rashbaum, Al Baker, and Adam Goldman, “Ahmad Khan Rahami Is Arrested in Manhattan and New Jersey Bombings,” New York Times, September 19, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/20/nyregion/nyc-nj-explosions-ahmad-khan-rahami.html;
“FBI: Rahmani Linked to Bombs in New York and New Jersey,” NBC News, September 19, 2016, http://www.nbcnews.com/video/fbi-rahmani-linked-to-bombs-in-new-york-and-new-jersey-768647747830.
No one was injured in the remaining three IED attacks attributed to Rahami, two of which he failed to detonate.Tom Winter, Jonathan Dienst, Pete Williams, and Chris Francescani, “Terror Timeline: The NY/NJ Bombings, From First Blast to Arrest,” NBC News, September 19, 2016, http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/ny-nj-bombings/terror-timeline-ny-nj-bombings-first-blast-arrest-n650716.

After a days-long manhunt, Rahami was found and arrested on September 19 in Linden, New Jersey, close to his parents’ home in neighboring Elizabeth.Marc Santora, William K. Rashbaum, Al Baker, and Adam Goldman, “Ahmad Khan Rahami Is Arrested in Manhattan and New Jersey Bombings,” New York Times, September 19, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/20/nyregion/nyc-nj-explosions-ahmad-khan-rahami.html. After engaging in a shootout with police, Rahami was taken into custody and transferred to University Hospital in Newark, New Jersey. Rahami was charged later that day with seven counts, including five counts of attempted murder of a police officer, with his bail set at $5.2 million.Marc Santora, William K. Rashbaum, Al Baker, and Adam Goldman, “Ahmad Khan Rahami Is Arrested in Manhattan and New Jersey Bombings,” New York Times, September 19, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/20/nyregion/nyc-nj-explosions-ahmad-khan-rahami.html. On September 20, 2016, the U.S. brought formal charges against Rahami, including use of weapons of mass destruction and bombing a place of public use.“Criminal Complaint: United States of America v. Ahmad Khan Rahami a/k/a/ ‘Ahmad Rahimi,’ defendant,” U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York,” September 20, 2016, https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/file/894396/download. A notebook belonging to Rahami and discovered by law enforcement upon Rahami’s arrest allegedly included messages praising Osama bin Laden and U.S.-born al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.“Criminal Complaint: United States of America v. Ahmad Khan Rahami a/k/a/ ‘Ahmad Rahimi,’ defendant,” U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York,” September 20, 2016, https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/file/894396/download.

The first IED linked to Rahami was discovered on the morning of Saturday, September 17, when—at approximately 9:35 a.m. EST—a pipe bomb fizzled and exploded in a garbage can in New Jersey’s Seaside Park, near the route of the Seaside Marine Corps Charity 5K Race.Sarah Almukhtar, Ford Fessenden, K.K. Rebecca Lai, Tim Wallace, and Derek Watkins;
“How the Manhunt for the Chelsea Bombing Suspect Unfolded,” New York Times, September 19, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/09/19/nyregion/chelsea-bombing-explosion-maps-timeline.html;
Tom Winter, Jonathan Dienst, Pete Williams, and Chris Francescani, “Terror Timeline: The NY/NJ Bombings, From First Blast to Arrest,” NBC News, September 19, 2016, http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/ny-nj-bombings/terror-timeline-ny-nj-bombings-first-blast-arrest-n650716.
According to law enforcement, the race—which sought to raise money for the U.S. Marine Corps—began late, explaining why no one was killed or injured in the attack.Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz, and John Newsome, “Blast Near Marine Corps Race in New Jersey Probed as Possible Terror Act,” CNN, September 18, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/17/us/nj-explosive-trash-can. Eleven hours later, at approximately 8:30 p.m. EST, a pressure-cooker bomb, packed with ball bearings and steel nuts, exploded near a dumpster in New York’s Chelsea district in Manhattan, blowing up a dumpster 150 feet down the street, shattering windows a block away, and leaving 31 people wounded, including one British citizen. Sarah Almukhtar, Ford Fessenden, K.K. Rebecca Lai, Tim Wallace, and Derek Watkins;
“How the Manhunt for the Chelsea Bombing Suspect Unfolded,” New York Times, September 19, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/09/19/nyregion/chelsea-bombing-explosion-maps-timeline.html;
“Criminal Complaint: United States of America v. Ahmad Khan Rahami a/k/a/ ‘Ahmad Rahimi,’ defendant,” U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York,” September 20, 2016, https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/file/894396/download.

Hours after the attack in Chelsea—at approximately 11:30 p.m. EST—police discovered and removed an unexploded pressure-cooker bomb a few blocks away in Chelsea. Sarah Almukhtar, Ford Fessenden, K.K. Rebecca Lai, Tim Wallace, and Derek Watkins;
“How the Manhunt for the Chelsea Bombing Suspect Unfolded,” New York Times, September 19, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/09/19/nyregion/chelsea-bombing-explosion-maps-timeline.html.
The fourth IED linked to Rahami—a backpack containing six unexploded pipe bombs—was discovered at 8:40 p.m. the following evening near a train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey.Michael Wilson, “New Jersey Man Found Guilty in Chelsea Bombing,” New York Times, October 16, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/16/nyregion/chelsea-bombing-verdict.html;
Sarah Almukhtar, Ford Fessenden, K.K. Rebecca Lai, Tim Wallace, and Derek Watkins;
“How the Manhunt for the Chelsea Bombing Suspect Unfolded,” New York Times, September 19, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/09/19/nyregion/chelsea-bombing-explosion-maps-timeline.html.
Police disarmed the bombs remotely, detonating one of the pipe bombs in the process.Sarah Almukhtar, Ford Fessenden, K.K. Rebecca Lai, Tim Wallace, and Derek Watkins;
“How the Manhunt for the Chelsea Bombing Suspect Unfolded,” New York Times, September 19, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/09/19/nyregion/chelsea-bombing-explosion-maps-timeline.html;
“Criminal Complaint: United States of America v. Ahmad Khan Rahami a/k/a/ ‘Ahmad Rahimi,’ defendant,” U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York,” September 20, 2016, https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/file/894396/download.

Law enforcement initially treated the investigations in New York and New Jersey as separate incidents, but soon after linked Rahami to all four IEDs. Rahami’s fingerprints were discovered on the unexploded bomb in New York as well as the backpack of pipe bombs in Elizabeth.“Criminal Complaint: United States of America v. Ahmad Khan Rahami a/k/a/ ‘Ahmad Rahimi,’ defendant,” U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York,” September 20, 2016, https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/file/894396/download. Surveillance footage also showed that Rahami was at the scene of both bomb locations in Chelsea. The exploded bombs in Chelsea and Seaside Park were both primed by cellphones that were purchased at the same Family Dollar store in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.Tom Winter, Jonathan Dienst, Pete Williams, and Chris Francescani, “Terror Timeline: The NY/NJ Bombings, From First Blast to Arrest,” NBC News, September 19, 2016, http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/ny-nj-bombings/terror-timeline-ny-nj-bombings-first-blast-arrest-n650716;
Tom Winter, Miguel Almaguer, Jonathan Dienst, and Corky Siemaszko, “Ahmad Rahami, Suspect in N.Y. and N.J. Bombings, Charged With Attempted Murder,” NBC News, September 19, 2016, http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/ny-nj-bombings/ahmad-rahami-identified-n-y-n-j-bombings-suspect-officials-n650306.
The unexploded bomb in Chelsea also contained a cellphone that was registered in the name of one of Rahami’s family members.“Criminal Complaint: United States of America v. Ahmad Khan Rahami a/k/a/ ‘Ahmad Rahimi,’ defendant,” U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York,” September 20, 2016, https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/file/894396/download.

On September 19, 2016, at around 8:00 a.m. EST, New York City issued a cellphone alert: “WANTED: Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28-yr-old male. See media for pic. Call 9-1-1 if seen.”J. David Goodman and David Gelles, “Cellphone Alerts Used in New York to Search for Bombing Suspect,” New York Times, September 19, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/20/nyregion/cellphone-alerts-used-in-search-of-manhattan-bombing-suspect.html. The police department also shared the wanted poster via its Twitter account.“The work of a terrorist” behind New York’s explosion… and Ahmad Khan Rahami is suspected,” Al-Araby (London), September 19, 2016, https://www.alaraby.co.uk/amp//politics/2016/9/19/عمل-إرهابي-وراء-انفجار-نيويورك-والمشتبه-أحمد-خان-رحامي. New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “The bomb which exploded was a terrorist act, but there is no evidence of his (Rahami’s) connection to international jihadist groups.”“The work of a terrorist” behind New York’s explosion… and Ahmad Khan Rahami is suspected,” Al-Araby (London), September 19, 2016, https://www.alaraby.co.uk/amp//politics/2016/9/19/عمل-إرهابي-وراء-انفجار-نيويورك-والمشتبه-أحمد-خان-رحامي. At around 10:30 a.m., Rahami was discovered by police in Linden, New Jersey, asleep in the doorway of a bar.Barbara Demick, Del Quentin Wilber, Vera Haller, and Matt Pearce, “Suspect in New York-area bombings had traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Los Angeles Times, September 19, 2016, http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-new-york-bomb-suspect-20160919-snap-story.html. According to the Linden Police Department, shortly after trying to wake Rahami, the police officer realized that he resembled the man in the wanted poster.Marc Santora, William K. Rashbaum, Al Baker, and Adam Goldman, “Ahmad Khan Rahami Is Arrested in Manhattan and New Jersey Bombings,” New York Times, September 19, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/20/nyregion/nyc-nj-explosions-ahmad-khan-rahami.html. The officer then ordered Rahami to show his hands at which point Rahami allegedly pulled out a handgun and shot the officer in the chest, hitting the officer’s bulletproof vest.Marc Santora, William K. Rashbaum, Al Baker, and Adam Goldman, “Ahmad Khan Rahami Is Arrested in Manhattan and New Jersey Bombings,” New York Times, September 19, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/20/nyregion/nyc-nj-explosions-ahmad-khan-rahami.html. Rahami then reportedly fled the scene, shooting indiscriminately at passersby.Marc Santora, William K. Rashbaum, Al Baker, and Adam Goldman, “Ahmad Khan Rahami Is Arrested in Manhattan and New Jersey Bombings,” New York Times, September 19, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/20/nyregion/nyc-nj-explosions-ahmad-khan-rahami.html. Other officers reportedly joined the chase, shooting Rahami multiple times before overtaking him, taking him into custody, and transferring him to University Hospital in Newark, New Jersey.Marc Santora, William K. Rashbaum, Al Baker, and Adam Goldman, “Ahmad Khan Rahami Is Arrested in Manhattan and New Jersey Bombings,” New York Times, September 19, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/20/nyregion/nyc-nj-explosions-ahmad-khan-rahami.html. Two officers were injured in the gunfire exchange, according to a briefing by the FBI. One of the officers was allegedly shot by Rahami as he sought to flee. The other officer was reportedly wounded by flying glass and shrapnel as a result of the gunfire exchange.“FBI: Rahmani Linked to Bombs in New York and New Jersey,” NBC News, September 19, 2016, http://www.nbcnews.com/video/fbi-rahmani-linked-to-bombs-in-new-york-and-new-jersey-768647747830;
Katie Little and Christine Wang, “NY/NJ Bombing Suspect Charged with 5 Counts of Attempted Murder of a Law Enforcement Officer: NBC,” CNBC, September 19, 2016, http://www.cnbc.com/2016/09/19/ahmad-rahami-in-custody-after-shooting-police-officer-in-linden-nj-wnbc-citing-source.html.

For years before the series of bomb attacks in September 2016, Rahami had shown few signs of radicalization, according to several friends and neighbors. Born in Afghanistan, Rahami and his family came to the United States in 1995 after Rahami’s father claimed asylum.Shane Harris, Nancy A. Youssef, Katie Zavadski, and Katie Briquelet, “Ahmad Khan Rahami, Accused NYC Bomber, Traveled to Pakistan Undetected by U.S.,” Daily Beast, September 19, 2016, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/09/19/ahmad-khan-rahami-arrested-but-questions-remain-about-bombings.html. Rahami grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey, attending local public school and residing with his family in an apartment above their family-run restaurant, First American Fried Chicken. The restaurant—a fast-food joint described in news outlets as “always open”—received a series of noise complaints from neighbors.N. R. Kleinfeld, “Ahmad Rahami: Fixture in Family’s Business and, Lately, a ‘Completely Different Person,’” New York  Times, September 19, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/20/nyregion/ahmad-khan-rahami-bombing-suspect.html. In June 2010, two of Rahami’s brothers—identified as Mohammad K. and Mohammad Q.—were arrested after engaging in an altercation with police who had come to the restaurant to close it down for the evening. One of the brothers was not charged, while the other pled guilty to charges and paid a $100 fine.N. R. Kleinfeld, “Ahmad Rahami: Fixture in Family’s Business and, Lately, a ‘Completely Different Person,’” New York  Times, September 19, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/20/nyregion/ahmad-khan-rahami-bombing-suspect.html. In 2011, Rahami’s parents filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against the city and its police department, accusing them of religious-based harassment and intimidation.N. R. Kleinfeld, “Ahmad Rahami: Fixture in Family’s Business and, Lately, a ‘Completely Different Person,’” New York  Times, September 19, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/20/nyregion/ahmad-khan-rahami-bombing-suspect.html.

According to some neighbors, Rahami’s radicalization may have begun as early as 2011, when Rahami spent several weeks in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and Quetta, Pakistan, an area known for its Taliban presence.Catherine E. Shoichet, “Ahmad Khan Rahami: What We Know about the Bombing Suspect,” CNN, September 20, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/19/us/ahmad-khan-rahami. It was during this trip that Rahami reportedly married a Pakistani woman, Asia Bibi Rahami.Catherine E. Shoichet, Shimon Prokupecz, and Evan Perez, “Ahmad Khan Rahami’s Wife Left US Before Bombings,” CNN, September 20, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/20/us/ahmad-khan-rahami-wife/. In August 2014, Rahami’s father contacted law enforcement, fearing that his son had been radicalized. The FBI investigated the claim but did not find cause for a full inquiry, according to the bureau.Marc Santora and Adam Goldman, “Ahmad Khan Rahami Was Inspired by Bin Laden, Charges Say,” New York Times, September 20, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/21/nyregion/ahmad-khan-rahami-suspect.html;
Spencer Ackerman, Paul Owen, and Amber Jamieson, “Ahmad Khan Rahami’s Father Contacted FBI in 2014 over Terrorism Worry,” Guardian (London), September 20, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/20/ahmad-khan-rahami-father-fbi-terrorism-bombing.
The FBI claimed that it had conducted “internal database reviews, interagency checks, and multiple interviews” as part of its preliminary investigation, but none of the inquiries “revealed ties to terrorism.”Spencer Ackerman, Paul Owen, and Amber Jamieson, “Ahmad Khan Rahami’s Father Contacted FBI in 2014 over Terrorism Worry,” Guardian (London), September 20, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/20/ahmad-khan-rahami-father-fbi-terrorism-bombing.

Because Rahami was not placed on a watch list as a result of the FBI investigation, he was able to travel to the Afghanistan-Pakistan region at least three times between 2014 and 2016 without detection by law enforcement, according to U.S. officials.Shane Harris, Nancy A. Youssef, Katie Zavadski, and Katie Briquelet, “Ahmad Khan Rahami, Accused NYC Bomber, Traveled to Pakistan Undetected by U.S.,” Daily Beast, September 19, 2016, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/09/19/ahmad-khan-rahami-arrested-but-questions-remain-about-bombings.html. Following Rahami’s return to the United States, he became noticeably more religiously observant, according to patrons at the Rahamis’ family-run restaurant. Customers noticed that Rahami started to wear more traditional Muslim clothing, sport a beard, and pray in the back of the restaurant.N. R. Kleinfeld, “Ahmad Rahami: Fixture in Family’s Business and, Lately, a ‘Completely Different Person,’” New York Times, September 19, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/20/nyregion/ahmad-khan-rahami-bombing-suspect.html.

Though Rahami may have been radicalized to extremist ideology during his visits to the Af-Pak region, Rahami had a prior history of arrests and violence dating back to 2008. On one occasion in 2012, Rahami spent a day in jail after allegedly violating a restraining order filed against him.N. R. Kleinfeld, “Ahmad Rahami: Fixture in Family’s Business and, Lately, a ‘Completely Different Person,’” New York Times, September 19, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/20/nyregion/ahmad-khan-rahami-bombing-suspect.html. In another incident in 2014, Rahami spent three months in jail on charges of aggravated assault and illegal possession of a firearm after allegedly stabbing a relative in the leg.N. R. Kleinfeld, “Ahmad Rahami: Fixture in Family’s Business and, Lately, a ‘Completely Different Person,’” New York Times, September 19, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/20/nyregion/ahmad-khan-rahami-bombing-suspect.html. It was reportedly this violent incident in 2014 that prompted Rahami’s father to contact the FBI and request an investigation.Spencer Ackerman, Paul Owen, and Amber Jamieson, “Ahmad Khan Rahami’s Father Contacted FBI in 2014 over Terrorism Worry,” Guardian (London), September 20, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/20/ahmad-khan-rahami-father-fbi-terrorism-bombing.

According to reports, Rahami may have begun planning for the New York and New Jersey attacks as far back as February 2015, when he allegedly purchased the first of two flip phones used as timers for the IEDs.“Criminal Complaint: United States of America v. Ahmad Khan Rahami a/k/a/ ‘Ahmad Rahimi,’ defendant,” U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York,” September 20, 2016, https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/file/894396/download. In June 2016, Rahami allegedly began purchasing bomb-related materials off of eBay, according to the criminal complaint filed against him.“Criminal Complaint: United States of America v. Ahmad Khan Rahami a/k/a/ ‘Ahmad Rahimi,’ defendant,” U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York,” September 20, 2016, https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/file/894396/download. Two days before the September 17 attacks, Rahami was recorded on a family member’s cellphone lighting “incendiary materials” in a “cylindrical container,” according to the criminal complaint.“Criminal Complaint: United States of America v. Ahmad Khan Rahami a/k/a/ ‘Ahmad Rahimi,’ defendant,” U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York,” September 20, 2016, https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/file/894396/download.

On October 16, 2017, Rahami was convicted in federal court in connection to the New York attacks, including use of weapons of mass destruction and bombing a place of public use.Michael Wilson, “New Jersey Man Found Guilty in Chelsea Bombing,” New York Times, October 16, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/16/nyregion/chelsea-bombing-verdict.html;
“Criminal Complaint: United States of America v. Ahmad Khan Rahami a/k/a/ ‘Ahmad Rahimi,’ defendant,” U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York,” September 20, 2016, https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/file/894396/download.
On February 13, 2018, Rahami was sentenced to life in prison and five years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $562,803 in restitution. Rahami still faces charges in New Jersey in connection with his alleged attempts to detonate explosives in Seaside Park and Elizabeth.“Chelsea Bomber Ahmad Khan Rahimi Sentenced to Life in Prison for Executing September 2016 Bombing and Attempted Bombing in New York City,” U.S. Department of Justice, February 13, 2018, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/chelsea-bomber-ahmad-khan-rahimi-sentenced-life-prison-executing-september-2016-bombing-and.

 
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