FBI on the hunt for Ahmad Khan Rahami in connection with New York bombing
LATEST UPDATE: 10:43am ET, Monday, September 19
Some new details have emerged about the investigation. Here’s what we know so far:
-The family of Ahmad Khan Rahami, the man wanted for questioning in connection to the Saturday night bombing in New York City, owns a fried chicken restaurant located on the ground floor of their home on Elmora Avenue in Elizabeth, New Jersey, according to theNew York Times. After neighbors repeatedly complained about late-night noise and the clientele, the city passed an ordinance that forced the restaurant to close at 10 p.m. Rahami’s brother reportedly fled to Afghanistan after getting into a fight with a police officer about the business, and his father sued the city, alleging ethnic discrimination.
-The motive behind the bombings remains unclear. Authorities still aren’t sure why the bombs were placed in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan and the New Jersey towns of Seaside Park and Elizabeth. No terrorist group has claimed responsibility.
-An unnamed law enforcement official told the Times that the pressure cooker bombs in Chelsea were filled with “fragmentation materials,” such as small metal ball bearings or round metal pellets that would be used in a BB gun.
-In addition to the bomb that exploded in Seaside Park, authorities found three other pipe bombs nearby that were tied together and failed to detonate. The device used a flip-style cellphone as a detonator, according to the Times. The Chelsea bombs reportedly used a similar setup.
-Law enforcement officials told Times correspondent Rukmini Callimachi that the pressure cooker bombs in Chelsea and the pipe bombs in Elizabeth both used the explosive HMTD, which can be made from common chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide and citric acid. Callimachi, an expert on the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, noted that those terror groups have typically used a different compound, TATP, for bombings in Europe.
-New Jersey state police have said they also want to question Rahami about the explosion in Seaside Park.
Original post continues below.
After three bomb-related incidents in two days over the weekend in New York City and New Jersey, authorities have identified 28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami a person of interest in connection with the blast that injured 29 people on Saturday.
New York Police Department spokesman J. Peter Donald announced on Twitter that police are seeking Rahami for questioning about the bombing that rattled Manhattan on Saturday and a second pressure cooker-style improvised explosive device that did not detonate.
“I want to be very clear that this individual could be armed and dangerous,” Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York said Monday. “Anyone seeing him should call 911 immediately.”
According to a wanted poster released by the FBI, Rahmani is a US citizen of Afghan descent whose last known address was in Elizabeth, New Jersey. At around 8:45pm on Sunday, police found five pipe bombs in a backpack on top of a garbage can near a train station in Elizabeth, a suburb about 20 miles southeast of Manhattan.
The bombs were spotted at about 8:45pm by civilian bystanders, who alerted police. The bomb squad arrived on the scene and used a robot to dry to disarm one of the explosives, but it accidentally detonated. Nobody was injured.
Also at around 8:45pm on Sunday, the FBI and New York Police Department stopped what authorities described as a “vehicle of interest” in Brooklyn near the Verrazano Bridge. Five people are reportedly in custody and being questioned about the Manhattan bombing, according to unnamed law enforcement officials who spoke with the Associated Press.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who initially said the Chelsea bombing did not appear to be linked to international terrorism, said on Monday that new evidence could suggest otherwise.
“I would not be surprised if we did have a foreign connection to the act,” Cuomo told CNN.
The other bombing incident occurred Saturday morning in Seaside Park, New Jersey, about 11 hours before the explosion in Manhattan. A pipe bomb exploded in a garbage can along the route of a 5K charity race to benefit members of the Marine Corps and their families. The race hadn’t started yet, and no one was hurt.
Authorities are investigating possible connections between the three incidents, but New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill said, “At this point, there doesn’t appear to be one.” The undetonated New York bomb was reportedly made from a cellphone, Christmas lights, and Tannerite, an explosive powder used during target practice at shooting ranges. A cellphone was also used in the Seaside Park bomb, but that explosive contained black powder. An unnamed Homeland Security official told Reuters the bombs in New Jersey and New York were linked, but offered no additional details.
Cuomo said there were “certain commonalities among the bombs,” which led authorities to suspect “that there was a common group behind the bombs.”
According to the Associated Press, FBI agents with dogs swarmed an apartment linked to Rahmani in Elizabeth at around 6am on Monday morning. The building was reportedly above a fried chicken restaurant in a residential neighborhood. It’s unclear whether anyone was detained during the search.
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