Naturalized Citizen Charged on NYC-NJ Bombs

      MANHATTAN (CN) — Federal prosecutors charged a naturalized citizen from Afghanistan, Ahmad Khan Rahami, with four criminal counts late Tuesday including use of weapons of mass destruction related to bombings this past weekend in Manhattan and New Jersey.
     Authorities took the 28-year-old Rahami into custody on Monday, after he was in a shootout with police in New Jersey. His capture came hours after authorities sent Rahami’s name, age and mugshot appeared on “Wanted” ads sent to millions cellphones across New York City.
     In a 13-page criminal complaint signed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein, Rahami is slapped with counts of using weapons of mass destruction, bombing a place of public use, destruction of property, and using a destructive device during a crime of violence.
     During his arrest, authorities recovered a handwritten journal on Rahami that said: “You (USA Government) continue your [unintelligible] slaught[er] against the mujahidean be it Afghanistan, Iraq, Sham [Syria], Palestine,” Ramahi wrote in the journal, according to the complaint.
     Prosecutors say that the journal also had praise for the Fort Hood shooter and “Brother Osama bin Laden.”
     Tying Ramahi to the blasts through forensic evidence, surveillance video and a journal found after his arrest, the complaint gives a glimpse into the accused bomber’s motives and provides a short view of the blasts that rocked New York and New Jersey.
     At 9:35 a.m. on Saturday, the first of these rocked a Jersey shore town roughly 30 minutes after the anticipated start time of the Seaside Heights Semper Five Marine Corps Charity 5-kilometer race.
     Prosecutors say that this race, along with a 1-mile “fun run,” had been delayed because of unrelated law enforcement activity.
     “After the blast, law enforcement officers examined the crime scene and concluded that the Seaside Park device was comprised of three connected pipe bombs, only one of which in fact detonated,” the complaint states.
     In New Jersey, Rahami faces six charges including two counts of using and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction, two counts of using a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence, bombing and attempting to bomb a place of public use and public transportation system, and attempting to destroy property by means of fire or explosive.
     Later that day, at 8:30 p.m., an improvised explosive device rocked in the vicinity of 135 West 23rd Street in Manhattan’s Chelsea, injuring approximately 31 people and causing millions in property damage across a 650-foot crime scene.
     “The blast shattered windows as far as approximately 400 feet from the detonation site and, vertically, more than three stories high,” according to the complaint.
     The complaint also paints a portrait of the human toll.
     “These injuries included, among other things, lacerations to the face, abdomen, legs, and arms caused by flying glass; metal shrapnel and fragmentation embedded in skin and bone; and various head injuries.
     “At least one victim was hospitalized and had to have multiple ball bearings removed from her body, as well as metal fragmentation from her ear and wood shards from her neck,” the complaint states.
     Prosecutors say that the pressure-cooker bomb was “packed with, among other things, a high-explosive main charge, ball bearings, and steel nuts.”
     Cellphones recovered near both the Chelsea and Seaside Heights “likely functioned as a timer” for the bombs, prosecutors said.
     At 8:40 p.m. on Sunday, multiple other IEDs were found in an Elizabeth, New Jersey, one of which detonated as a police robot tried to defuse it.
     “FBI laboratory analysis of fingerprints recovered from materials contained in the backpack has determined a positive match to Ahmad Khan Rahami,” the complaint states.
     Prosecutors say that the bureau found 12 fingerprints on the Chelsea bomb matching Rahami’s.
     When authorities closed in on Rahami the next day, their suspect shot two police officers in Linden, New Jersey, before he was shot and subdued.
     The complaint points to other evidence linking Rahami to the bombings, including surveillance video, eBay purchases of bomb components and analysis of the cellular phone used in the explosives.
     On social media, the U.S. citizen Rahami trumpeted his Afghan heritage through the handle “Yaafghankid786,” and flagged a favorite video as “”jihad nasheed ya shahid” [jihad is a martyr’s anthem] and “best jihad nasheed [anthem],” prosecutors say.
     Rahami faces a maximum of life imprisonment on three of the four counts, and a possible 20-year prison sentence if convicted on the remaining charge.
     The sheer number of bombs affiliated with the attacks in different states made CNN ask New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo whether Rahami acted alone.
     “You know, it is possible that he did,” Cuomo told the network. “And that is the predominant operating theory, but it’s also being tested in a serious investigation. We just want to make sure there are no other associates of this man who could be a potential threat. And they’re quite exhaustive in that review.”
     The governor said he directed state police and National Guard to deploy an additional 10,000 officers in high-profile locations in the New York metropolitan area.
     On the same network a day earlier, Cuomo told Wolf Blitzer that authorities are continuing to investigate whether he acted alone, had any co-conspirators or a foreign connection.
     A law enforcement official told the Associated Press that Rahami’s father reported his son to the FBI as a possible terrorist two years ago, but the bureau found no evidence connecting him to any terror groups.
     The father, Mohammad Rahami, later retracted his claim, the news wire reported today.
     

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