Suspect in New York area bombings captured after shootout

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The suspect identified by the FBI in the Sept. 17 bombing in New York City that injured 29 people has been captured. Ahmad Khan Rahami was arrested today after he was wounded in a shootout with police in Linden, N.J., according to The New York Times. One police officer was reportedly wounded during the gunfight with the suspect.

The FBI described Rahami as “a 28-year-old United States citizen of Afghan descent born on Jan. 23, 1988, in Afghanistan” whose last known address is in Elizabeth, N.J. Rahami’s family operates a restaurant in Elizabeth, The New York Times reported.

The New Jersey State Police were also seeking to question Rahami about bombings in Seaside Park and Elizabeth, N.J.

Officials believe the bombings in New York City, Elizabeth, and Seaside Park may be linked, ABC News reported. Rahami is thought to be the man identified in videos taken at the scene of the explosion in New York City as well as at a nearby site where an unexploded bomb was found.

The first bombing occurred on Saturday morning in Seaside Park, N.J., near the planned route for a Semper Fi 5K charity run. A pipe bomb that was set up with a remote timer was used in the blast. No one was hurt in the explosion.

The second bombing, in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood on Saturday evening, wounded 29 people. A pressure cooker bomb was also found nearby but did not detonate.

The New Jersey State Police said that Rahami is wanted for questioning in the New York City and Seaside Park bombings, and released a montage of photos of the suspect, including one that appears to show him on surveillance video near the scene of the New York attack.

Earlier this morning, “a suspicious package with multiple improvised explosive devices,” thought to be pipe bombs, was discovered at the Elizabeth Train Station, the FBI’s office in Newark wrote on its Twitter feed. The bombs exploded as a police robot searched the bag.

There are similarities between the explosive devices, and the bombs in New York appear to have been designed based on manuals posted online by jihadist groups, including al Qaeda, according to the Associated Press.

US officials have not linked Rahami to a terrorist group, and, according to Reuters, he is not listed in the US counterterrorism database as a known suspect or person of interest.

It is unclear if Rahami acted alone, but some officials said that they believe he may have plotted with others to build the bombs and execute the attacks. A “family acquaintance” claimed that Rahami “traveled to Afghanistan several years ago,” Reuters reported.

Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other jihadist groups have not claimed responsibility for the bombings in the New York area. The Islamic State did claim that one of its “soldiers” was responsible for stabbings at a mall in St. Cloud, Minn., that wounded nine people.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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5 Comments

  • Brian Lee says:

    Haqqani ties and training in the FATA come to light yet?

  • Arjuna says:

    His Pakistani old lady sounds shady, if she was even his real wife. Reminds me of Mrs. Farook. Four trips to Quetta and Kandahar post 2010. He is a creep’s own creep. Dad and at least one brother are dirty too. I suspect they’ll uncover links to TTP and possibly AQ. Don’t think this one was Islamic State or connected to St Cloud, MN. Straight out of Inspire, dupe of Boston bombs (they made pipes too). Luckily we are dealing with the Bad News Bears of bombmakers. He will sing. He’s facing the needle.

  • Arjuna says:

    According to three U.S. law enforcement officers: “Rahami’s writings recovered by law enforcement contain references to Osama Bin Laden and American-born jihadist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.”
    ISI better come clean with the creep’s contacts in Pakistan. I bet they might lead all the way up to some Egyptians.

  • fern says:

    I also read that 2 years ago his father told the FBI about his son being a terrorist.

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