What We Know So Far About Bombing Suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami
The 28-year-old suspected of planting a series of bombs in New York and Jersey over the weekend was arrested after a shootout with police.
Law enforcement officers secure the area where they allegedly arrested terror suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami following a shootout in Linden, New Jersey, on September 19, 2016. JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
Around 11 AM Monday morning, cops engaged in a shootout with 28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami, a man authorities believe was involved in bombings in New York and New Jersey over the weekend. After striking two officers and being wounded himself, Rahami was taken into custody in Linden, New Jersey, the New York Times reports.
"Lotta' lotta' gunfire," Derek Pelligra, manager of Linden Auto Body, told the paper in reference to the capture of Rahami, who was apparently found passed out in the doorway of a bar.
Rahami, a US citizen born in Afghanistan in 1988, was the first person named in connection to a blast at a charity race for Marines in Seaside Park, New Jersey, on Saturday—as well as a pair of explosive devices found in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. One of those devices exploded Saturday night and injured 29 people. The second may have inadvertently been disabled by thieves; a cellphone connected to the second bomb that contained pictures of Rahami helped put cops on his tail, according to DNAInfo. Rahami's fingerprints were also reportedly found on one of the pressure-cooker bombs, and he was spotted in surveillance footage near the scene of the attack.
Upon obtaining the man's identity, law enforcement honed in the Elizabeth, New Jersey, apartment above the restaurant owned by Rahami's father, Muhammad. First American Fried Chicken attracted lots of rowdy late-night customers and, sometimes, police attention. Locals told the Times the father and son were always present at the place and described them alternately as friendly and mysterious, even gruff.
According to the Times, Rahami, who was fond of souped-up Honda Civics, changed drastically after taking a trip to Pakistan—and possibly getting married there—several years ago. When he came back to the States, he took to praying regularly in the back of the chicken restaurant and grew a beard. He also showed signs of a violent side––allegedly stabbing someone in the leg in 2014. Although Rahami spent three months in jail over the weapons and aggravated assault charges, a grand jury ultimately decided not to indict him. He also spent a couple of days behind bars in 2008 and 2012, for not paying traffic tickets and allegedly violating a restraining order, respectively.
On Sunday night, wannabe thieves in New Jersey reportedly uncovered a set of five pipe bombs in the process of snagging an abandoned bag and alerted police. One of those bombs exploded around 12:40 AM Monday as a police robot was diffusing it, but no one was hurt. Cops took five other people into custody near the Verrazano Bridge in New York late Sunday; no details have been released about that group besides the fact that they were allegedly connected in some way to Rahami.
Early Monday morning, New York area residents received a text message alert naming the suspect and describing him as armed and dangerous. About a thousand officers from the department's Critical Response Command and Emergency Service Unit posted up at various landmarks. NYC mayor Bill de Blasio and President Obama spoke on the phone at around 10:20 AM, according to a White House press release, and cops caught up with Rahami soon after.
Over the weekend, officials treaded softly when it came to characterizing the bombings, but on Monday morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo seemed to change his tune.
"I wouldn't be surprised if we find a foreign connection to the act," he told CNN. "I think the answer to that question will be coming today."
This post has been updated to include new information.
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Thumbnail photo: Ahmad Khan Rahami is taken into custody after a shootout with police Monday, September 19, 2016, in Linden, New Jersey. Moshe Weiss via AP