Accused NY-NJ Bomber Pleads Not Guilty

MANHATTAN (CN) — Having spent months recovering from his shootout with police, the man charged with planting a trail of homemade bombs this September in New York and New Jersey pleaded not guilty Thursday before a federal judge.

Bystander injuries were minimal from the attacks, which began on Sept. 17 with explosion on the Jersey Shore along the route of a charity race set to kick off that morning.

That night, an improvised explosive device blew up a Dumpster on 23rd Street in Manhattan where it had been stashed.

As laid out in the 8-count indictment unsealed Wednesday against 28-year-old Ahmed Rahimi, the Chelsea attack wounded approximately 31 people. The blast shattered windows as far as 400 feet away, and caused millions in property damage across a 650-foot crime scene.

Four blocks away on 27th Street, law enforcement found a pressure-cooker bomb that failed to detonate.

Additional IEDs turned up the next morning, inside a backpack at the entrance of a train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Prosecutors say one of these bombs detonated as a robot tried to defuse it.

Authorities caught up with Rahimi in Linden, New Jersey, on Sept. 19. They say officers returned fire when the suspect shot at police, hitting him seven times.

After months of recovery in a Newark hospital, Rahimi hobbled into New York last week for his first court appearance.

The Elizabeth man wore a pained expression Thursday with a persistent cough as he pleaded not guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard Berman to counts of using weapons of mass destruction, bombing a place of public use, property destruction.

Wednesday night’s indictment clears up the misspelling of Rahimi’s name as Rahami in the initial complaints.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Lewin said that the prosecution would only need “somewhat limited discovery” on to supplement the extensive evidence that authorities collected.

Rahimi’s statements are among them, the prosecutor revealed.

The September complaint against Rahimi mentioned the recovery of a handwritten journal, extremist social-media posts, and fingerprints from the bomb materials and Rahimi’s backpack.

Prosecutors say Rahimi shot a cellphone video two days before the Chelsea bombings that showed him igniting an explosive device.

Rahimi’s attorneys declined to comment outside the courtroom.

To sort out these evidentiary matters, Judge Berman scheduled the next court hearings for Dec. 19, 2016 and Jan. 31, 2017.

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