NY, NJ Bombings Suspect Charged on Suspicion of Use of Weapon of Mass Destruction, Other Federal Counts

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The suspect in Saturday's bombings in New York and New Jersey declared that "the sounds of bombs will be heard in the streets" and praised "Brother Osama Bin Laden" in a journal found on him when he was arrested, authorities said.

NYPD officers on the scene in Chelsea on September 19, the morning after the bombing in New York City. (Credit: Marie-Laure Sibilia Adnet)
NYPD officers on the scene in Chelsea on September 19, the morning after the bombing in New York City. (Credit: Marie-Laure Sibilia Adnet)

Ahmad Rahami was charged Tuesday with four counts in federal court in connection with incidents in Seaside Heights, NJ, and Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood.

Complaints filed in federal court in Manhattan and New Jersey contain details from the investigation and Rahami's handwritten journal, which was damaged from a shootout with police.

He is charged with use of weapons of mass destruction, bombing a public place, destruction of property and use of a destructive device.

The 28-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen also faces charges in New Jersey state court stemming from a shootout with police in Linden.

New details emerge

The complaint sheds new light on Rahami's alleged motives and means, and the time line of the incidents.

Two cell phones used in the bombs were shipped to a Perth Amboy, New Jersey, store located about 500 meters from a residence listed on Rahami's 2012 passport application as home.

The "user address" for the phone attached to the unexploded pressure cooker bomb found in Chelsea belonged to Rahami's residence, the complaint alleges.

A social media account associated with the phone contained videos of violent extremist content.

From June 20 to Aug. 10, registered eBay user "ahmad rahimi" purchased items associated with bomb making. They were shipped to a Perth Amboy, NJ, business where Rahami is believed to have worked until Sept. 12.

The Chelsea explosion came from a "high explosive charge" placed inside a pressure cooker and left in a dumpster. The blast propelled the dumpster 100 feet and shattered windows 400 feet above the detonation. The bomb was packed with ball bearings and steel nuts, likely to increase the lethality of the device, that traveled as far as 650 feet from the site, the complaint alleges.

An unexploded pressure cooker was packed with similar components, including a cell phone that would act as a timer. Twelve fingerprints recovered from the pressure cooker, duct tape, and triggering cell phone were matched to Rahami.

In addition to bin Laden, the journal contained references to Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born cleric and Fort Hood, Texas, mass shooter Nidal Hasan. There are mentions of pipe bombs, a pressure cooker bomb and a partial sentence, "in the streets they plan to run a mile."

It closes with "Inshallah," God willing, "the sounds of the bombs will be heard in the streets. Gun shots to your police. Death To Your OPPRESSION."

Why the FBI interviewed Rahimi's father in 2014

Earlier Tuesday, Rahami's father told reporters that he called the FBI two years ago when his son was acting violently.

The FBI interviewed Rahami's father in 2014 after a violent domestic dispute. That interview stemmed from a tip alleging that Rahami's father was calling his son a terrorist, according to two US officials.

However, there are contradictory accounts of how Rahami came to the attention of law enforcement. His father told reporters that he contacted the FBI and expressed his concern after the dispute.

But when the FBI talked with the father, he recanted his claim that his son was a terrorist but expressed concern that Ahmad was engaged in criminal or gang activity, a federal law enforcement source said.

Ultimately, federal investigators believed it was a domestic dispute, several federal officials told CNN. At the time of that interview, Rahami was in jail following a family dispute in which he stabbed one of his relatives.

The FBI never interviewed Ahmad Rahami, according to officials. He was never placed in an FBI database of potential terrorists, officials said.

His wife's whereabouts

Rahami had also traveled for extended periods to Afghanistan and Pakistan in the last few years. While he was in Pakistan in 2011, Rahami married a Pakistani woman. That same year, he filed paperwork to bring her back to the U.S., and it was approved in 2012. However it's unclear if she came to the US at that time.

In 2014, Rahami contacted Congressman Albio Sires' office from Islamabad, saying he was concerned about his wife's passport and visa. It turned out her Pakistani passport had expired. Once it was renewed, she discovered she was pregnant. She was told she would need a visa for the baby as well. It is unclear what happened to the child.

However, Rahami's wife eventually made it to the U.S. -- and she left before Saturday's attacks, according to a law enforcement official.

She is cooperating with investigators, according to the source. She has spoken with U.S. officials in the UAE.

How he was found

Surveillance video from Saturday evening showed a man believed to be Rahami dragging what appeared to be a duffel bag with wheels near the site of the West 23rd Street explosion about 40 minutes before the blast.

About 10 minutes later, surveillance video showed the same man with the same duffel bag on West 27th Street, near the site of the second bomb.

Authorities revealed his identity on Monday morning.

Rahami was captured four hours later in Linden, NJ, about 20 miles from New York City. Police found him after a bar owner spotted him sleeping in the doorway of his bar.

When officers responded, Rahami pulled out a handgun and opened fire. Two officers were injured in the shootout, which ended when Rahami was shot multiple times. He was taken to a hospital for surgery.

His bail has been set at $5.2 million.

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