On Monday, September 19, the main suspect in the New York and New Jersey bombings at the weekend was finally arrested.
Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, of Elizabeth, NJ, was found asleep in the neighbouring town of Linden. He was slumped in the doorway of a tavern there.
The owner was at another establishment across the street. He thought Rahami was a drunk until he recognised him. He rang the police.
When police awakened Rahami, the suspect opened fire, wounding one policeman in the chest. The other officers pursued him on foot. Rahami shot at a police car. The bullet ricocheted and grazed another officer’s face. The chase ended when police shot him several times and took him to hospital.
Rahami was not particularly forthcoming when questioned after surgery.
The investigation is ongoing and, as I write, it is unclear whether there is a terrorist cell in greater New York and whether Rahami had help. CNN has full details of what happened at the weekend.
There have been extremist Islamic terror cells in the United States for many years. Therefore, it is no exaggeration to say that they exist. The map below, courtesy of Free Thought Nation, shows terror activity and compounds dating back to the 1980s:
CNN reported that Rahami’s family accused the city and police of Elizabeth, NJ, of discriminating against their First American Fried Chicken restaurant because they had to close at 10 p.m. while other establishments in the neighbourhood could stay open later. However (emphases mine):
In 2011, the city council voted to close the restaurant at 10 p.m. because of “all the people hanging out there” around the clock, Elizabeth Mayor J. Christian Bollwage said Monday.
Owner Mohammad Rahami and his two sons filed a lawsuit claiming the city conspired to “discriminate” and “illegally harass” them by subjecting them to citations for allegedly violating a city ordinance on hours of operation.
The case alleged the Rahamis were “threatened and harassed” by a police officer. It argues that officers and city representatives said “the restaurant presented a danger to the community.”
It also accused a neighboring business owner of telling the Rahamis that “Muslims make too much trouble in this country” and “don’t belong here.”
The defendants, including police officers and city officials, denied the allegations.
Federal court records show the case ended in a “statistical closing.” Bollwage said Monday the 2012 ruling on the case favored the city, adding that the family’s restaurant was “disruptive in the city for many, many years.”
Rahami’s sister put up a post on Facebook asking for privacy at this time.
The Daily Beast reports that Rahami and members of his family have freely travelled to and from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Investigators are now trying to piece together his activities abroad.
Rahami’s father last travelled to Pakistan in July 2011 and stayed until September that year. Rahami had to appear for a court case — possibly the one connected with his restaurant — and, while he was present, his lawyer:
informed the judge that while the father had returned, his “family is in Afghanistan” but was expected to return within days.
Rahami’s brother is currently in Pakistan.
Rahami has a wife in that country:
U.S. Rep. Albio Sires told the Bergen Record that Rahami contacted his office via email in 2014 seeking an immigrant visa for his wife in Pakistan who was 35 weeks pregnant and whose Pakistani passport had expired.
The Rahami family arrived in the United States in 1995 as asylum seekers from Afghanistan:
There has been some confusion over when Rahami or his family were officially granted legal residency in the country, but it may have taken some time for their application to be processed and approved.
In 2013, one of the suspect’s brothers, Mohammad K. Rahami, posted a Facebook message in 2013, accompanied by a photo. It read:
I bring the men who desire death as ardently as you desire life.
In another Facebook entry in April that year:
Mohammad posted a photo of himself with a man identified as Ahmad in a comment. The two men are sitting outside, grilling kebabs.
Authorities have not named either brother as suspects or persons of interest.
Ahmad Khan Rahami is known to the police, with:
a series of escalating run-ins with the law beginning in 2008, when he spent a day in jail for unpaid parking tickets, and another in 2012 after he allegedly violated a restraining order, The New York Times reports. In 2014, Rahami spent three days in jail on weapons and aggravated assault charges, after allegedly stabbing a person in the leg, The New York Times reports. A grand jury dropped Rahami’s charges for the fight, which allegedly began as a domestic dispute.
Before Rahami was arrested in Linden, authorities raided his family’s home in Elizabeth at 3 a.m.:
according to time-stamped cellphone footage reviewed by The Daily Beast. The video, taken by a neighbor across the street, shows heavily armed officers at the family’s Elizabeth home waiting for family members to come out, one by one. Two of Rahami’s brothers came out first, followed by a woman and a young child. The father came out last, the neighbor said.
At the same time:
A Perth Amboy address linked to Ahmad Rahami and brother Mohammad Khan Rahami was subject to loud banging at 3 a.m., a neighbor told The Daily Beast. Police later confirmed they had investigated a Perth Amboy address. Maintenance workers were changing locks on the front door late Monday morning.
The explosive devices:
track closely to what was suggested in al Qaeda’s Inspire magazine in an article titled, “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom.” The guide was written by Samir Khan, a U.S. citizen born in Saudi Arabia who fled to Yemen to join Anwar al-Awlaki, an American cleric turned al Qaeda propagandist.
Khan advised aspiring bomb-makers to make pipe bombs and link them together for greater effect, just as Rahami is alleged to have done at two sites in New Jersey. Khan advised building larger bombs using pressure cookers.
Similar devices were used in the Boston and San Bernardino attacks.
The First American Fried Chicken restaurant in Elmore Avenue became a magnet on Monday for patrons and friends of the Rahami family:
Patrons and public records say the family appears to have five sons and three daughters. Two of the children are minors. The status of their mother is unknown, the customers said.
A 60-year-old musician named Jacob said that he has known Rahami — the father — for 14 years:
“When I met them [the Rahami siblings], they were kids. But lately they’ve been holding down the store,” Jacob told The Daily Beast, as he watched police work the scene. “They seemed like normal people.”
The longtime neighbor called Ahmad Rahami’s father, Mohammad, a “pretty decent, guy” and “real quiet and laid back.”
The dad talked of visiting Afghanistan on vacations and would hook Jacob up with turkey sandwiches and gyros, he said.
“He was cool. I’m just sorry that this happened to him,” he said.
Saul Asian, a 21-year-old classmate of one of Rahimi’s brothers:
described the Rahimi chicken spot as a hangout for middle-schoolers of the nearby Abraham Lincoln School. He used to see Ahmad work as a cashier.
“I didn’t want to believe it… until I saw it on the news,” Asian said of Ahmad’s arrest.
But not everyone was so positive.
Fox News reports that a young woman named Maria fell in love with Ahmad when they were both in high school. She has a little girl. He is the father. She says that he:
didn’t pay child support and often railed against American culture. The 26-year-old, who spoke after her grandmother called her for a reporter who produced his press credential and identified himself at the grandmother’s home in Elizabeth, said she had not seen Rahami in two years.
“He would speak often of Western culture and how it was different back home,” she said. “How there weren’t homosexuals in Afghanistan.
“He seemed standoffish to American culture, but I never thought he would cross the line,” she added.
The boy who was once a ‘class clown’ at Edison High School grew into a man who:
demonstrated his hatred for the U.S. military.
“One time, he was watching TV with my daughter and a woman in a [military] uniform came on and he told [their daughter], ‘That’s the bad person,'” she said.
Maria also told Fox that:
Rahami would often go back to Afghanistan to see family, and would stay for weeks, or even months. Right before their daughter was born, Rahami was in Afghanistan and had trouble returning because authorities in Afghanistan confiscated his passport for unknown reasons, Maria said. The last time Maria knows that Rahami visited his homeland was nine years ago. He brought back a wife and another child, she said.
She ended the interview by expressing why her former love made her afraid and why she cut off his visits:
My greatest fear is that he would try to take my daughter.
But, readers, as we all know, none of us must dare to call this man a terrorist.