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Police Arrest Suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami Over Bombs In New York Area

By Eyder Peralta | NPR
Monday, September 19, 2016

Updated at 10 p.m. ET with probe details

The suspect in the New York and New Jersey bombings has not been cooperating with police, according to law enforcement sources interviewed by NPR's Dina Temple-Raston.

Prosecutors in Union County, N.J., say Ahmad Khan Rahami has been charged with five counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, along with two weapons crimes. His bail has been set at $5.2 million. The charges relate to a shootout during his arrest.

The sources say a note was found in a plastic bag which was covering one of the devices being examined, a failed pressure cooker bomb, and the note mentioned a number of terrorist events, including the Boston Marathon attack. Dina reports that authorities are studying whether Rahami tried to copy that bombing, which also used devices made with pressure cookers.

She reports that Rahami had some similarities to Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the Boston bombers. They both had financial problems in the U.S., traveled back to the home country — in Rahami's case, Afghanistan — and had problems with the law.

The sources say among the evidence that led police to Rahami were a fingerprint on the unexploded bomb, and a cell phone that was linked to his father.

Investigators tell Dina that they are looking at Rahami's foreign travel because the bombs used an explosive made from Hexamethylene triperoide, which suggests he may have had training or practice.

Authorities say he traveled to Afghanistan in 2011 and 2013, and was in Quetta, Pakistan, in 2013, which is the base for the Pakistani Taliban.

Our original post:

Law enforcement agencies have apprehended New Jersey resident Ahmad Khan Rahami, after a brief but intense manhunt by agencies seeking to question him about multiple bombs in New York and New Jersey since Saturday. No one was killed in the blasts, but 29 people were injured.

Rahami, 28, was captured after a gun battle with police in Linden, N.J.; images shown on local TV shortly before noon Monday showed Rahami on a stretcher with what looks to be a wound on his upper arm or shoulder, with his hands behind his back.

Chris Bollwage, the mayor of Elizabeth, N.J., said on CNN that the suspect was apprehended and taken away by an ambulance after being injured in a shootout with police. Elizabeth is just northeast of Linden and is the site of Rahami's last known address.

Linden Mayor Derek Armstead said that a local bar owner called police because he found a man sleeping in the hallway of his bar.

"One of our police officers went to investigate and to wake him up and realized that he was the suspect that was being sought in the other bombings that had occurred prior," Armstead told reporters.

The man, who turned out to be Rahami, fired on the police officer who was wearing a bullet-proof vest, said Armstead. Two officers were injured during the confrontation.

During a press conference, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said authorities have "every reason to believe that this was an act of terror."

William Sweeney, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's New York field office, said they were not looking for any more suspects in the case and that they had "no indication" that a terror cell was operating in New York City.

De Blasio said that New Yorkers, however, should remain vigilant.

Authorities believe Rahami is the sole suspect in Saturday night's explosion on West 23rd Street in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood and an explosion earlier that day at Seaside Park, N.J.

Sweeney would only say that they connected those two explosions through "evidence and analysis."

Investigators searched several homes in New Jersey early Monday. Two law enforcement officials told NPR's Dina Temple-Raston that a cellphone attached to an explosive device that did not detonate initially led them to the suspect's father, which then led them to Rahami.

Rahami is a U.S. citizen who was born in Afghanistan on Jan. 23, 1988, a bulletin issued by the FBI stated, adding that "He is about 5' 6" tall and weighs approximately 200 pounds. Rahami has brown hair, brown eyes, and brown facial hair."

"The investigation is moving rapidly," President Obama said Monday during a news conference in New York, where he is attending this week's U.N. General Assembly. He added that law enforcement officials so far see no connection between the bombs and a stabbing spree this weekend at a Minnesota mall.

"We all have a role to play as citizens in making sure we don't succumb to that fear. And there's no better example of that than the people of New York and New Jersey," the president said.

Authorities said little about what they knew about Rahami. Sweeney said they had received information that he was involved in some kind of domestic dispute, but he also said that Rahami was not presently on the FBI's radar.

NPR has learned that in 2011, Rahami's father and other family members filed a lawsuit against the city of Elizabeth, its police department and other defendants, accusing them of harassment that targeted their business, a restaurant called First American Fried Chicken. The treatment was inspired by the plaintiffs' religion, national origin and race, the plaintiffs say in court documents.

The complaint was filed in district court in Newark; it remains unresolved.

Many developments have emerged since Saturday's explosion in Manhattan, which occurred around 8:30 p.m. ET. Here's a brief recap of where things stand, with the most recent events listed first:

Monday morning: De Blasio and police officials call for help in locating Rahami. New York restores subway service in all Chelsea stations.

FBI agents search a residence in Elizabeth, N.J., above a restaurant.

Sunday night: At a train station in Elizabeth, N.J., FBI technicians working on one of five bombs in a backpack that was initially discovered in a trash can detonate the bomb. No injuries are reported.

FBI agents stopped "a vehicle of interest" in Brooklyn in connection to the Manhattan explosion, the AP reports, citing FBI spokeswoman Kelly Langmesser. The AP says five people were in the car.

Sunday morning: All 29 of the people who were injured in Saturday night's blast in Chelsea have left hospitals. Officials also say the blast did not cause any structural damage.

Saturday around 8:30 p.m.: An explosion hits New York City's Chelsea neighborhood on West 23rd Street. Just blocks away, another bomb is found — and it's similar to the first. As the Two-Way reported, "Both were pressure cookers and Christmas lights were used to spark the explosives. A flip phone appeared to serve as the timer for both devices. Both pressure cookers were filled with ball bearings and BBs to serve as shrapnel."

Saturday morning: An explosion hits a trash can in Seaside Park, N.J., around 10 a.m., forcing officials to cancel a benefit run that had been planned to help members of the military and their families.

This is a breaking news story. As often happens in situations like these, some information reported early may turn out to be inaccurate. We'll move quickly to correct the record and we'll only point to the best information we have at the time.

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