- Ahmad Khan Rahami shot, taken alive earlier today
- Rahami is suspect in bombings in New York City; Seaside and Elizabeth, New Jersey
- Friend says came back from Afghanistan “and he was real religious”
- Allegedly posted on jihadist website
- Rahami a deadbeat, hated America, says his baby’s mother
- Tried to stab his sister; arrested on illegal weapons charge; served time
Ahmad Khan Rahami, the 28-year-old suspect in the bombings in New York City and New Jersey over the weekend, was taken into custody after a shootout with police in Linden, N.J., on Monday morning, local officials said. At least one police officer was wounded during Rahami’s arrest.
ABC News captured images of the Rahami as he was taken away from the scene in an ambulance. He appeared to have been shot in the right arm.
ELIZABETH, N.J. — The 28-year-old New Jersey man wanted in connection with a series of blasts that terrorized New York and New Jersey over the last three days was taken into custody Monday after being shot, two sources told NBC News.
Ahmad Rahami of Elizabeth, New Jersey, was identified as a suspect after a fingerprint was found on one of the devices that failed to detonate, a senior law enforcement official told NBC News.
They also found more information that pointed to Rahami on cell phones that were wired to the unexploded bombs, the official said.
“He certainly seemed to do virtually nothing to cover his tracks,” the official says.
But the official downplayed any talk of Rahimi being part of a “cell” and said at this point have no idea whether anyone else was involved.
Asked whether the bombings were ISIS-inspired or directed, the official said authorities have no idea: “We’re a long way from that.”
A bar owner in Linden, NJ spotted a man sleeping in his doorway and called police. An officer confronted the man around 10:45 a.m., soon recognizing it was Rahami, officials said. Rahami pulled a gun and shot the officer — who was wearing a bulletproof vest — in the abdomen, and more officers soon joined in a running gun battle with Rahami. Rahami was shot at least once in the leg and eventually brought down and captured alive. News cameras showed Rahami being loaded into an ambulance on a stretcher and he was taken to University Hospital in Newark, Fox News confirmed.
“Today I believe we’re going to find out that [the bombing] was influenced by foreign sources,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday on “Fox & Friends.”
Two U.S. officials told Reuters on Monday that the bomb plot likely involved several individuals, a revelation that came hours after federal authorities on Sunday night conducted a traffic stop in Brooklyn of a “vehicle of interest” in the bombings. A law enforcement source told Fox News that a “number of individuals” who are possibly connected to the explosions were taken into custody. At least five men were being questioned, The Associated Press reported.
A weapons stash was found in the vehicle and investigators were trying to determine if the occupants were attempting to drive out of town or take a plane, The New York Daily News reported.
Investigators believe Rahami also planted a bomb in Seaside Park, N.J., which exploded without injuring anyone Saturday, according to the New Jersey State Police.
His older brother Qasim, is believed to have returned to Afghanistan after getting into a fight with police in New Jersey, while one of his sisters, Zobydha, is a student at Rutgers University, and volunteers on a committee to promote community cohesion among minority students.
In 2014 he was arrested for unlawful possession of a weapon and aggravated assault, but was never charged. The attacks quickly became political fodder.
Rahami was arrested on domestic violence charges for allegedly attempting to stab his sister, Peter King, a Republican congressman for New York, told CNN.
Police said he spent a little over two months behind bars at Union County jail on a weapons and aggravated assault charge in 2014.
He is thought to have made multiple trips to Afghanistan and neighbouring countries.
Flee Jones, who grew up with Rahami, said that he thought the suspect had visited Afghanistan around four years ago. When he came back he had a beard and wore traditional Muslim robes. He started praying in the back of the family’s chicken restaurant.
“It’s like he was a completely different person,” Mr Jones told the New York Times. “He got serious and completely closed off.”
Maria, whose full name is being withheld by FoxNews.com, said her high school sweetheart, Ahmad Khan Rahami, 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.
“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.
The last time Maria knows that Rahami visited his homeland was nine years ago. He brought back a wife and another child, she said.
Maria did not say what prompted their breakup, and cut the interview short saying she did not want to speak to a reporter. But she did say she did not want Rahami around their daughter, whom she did not name.
“I didn’t want him to see my daughter,” she said. “If he loved her, he would have paid child support. My greatest fear is that he would try to take my daughter.”
Five men detained in connection with the probe after a traffic stop in Brooklyn were released Monday, and authorities said they do not believe the bombs were the work of a terror cell.
More background on Rahami and his family via WAPO: What we know about the suspect in the New York, N.J. bombings: Ahmad Khan Rahami
FBI agents spent Monday morning searching the home of Rahami’s family — an address on Elmora Avenue in the city of Elizabeth, which is six miles south of Newark. The home is about a mile away from New Jersey Transit’s Elizabeth station. Court records show members of the Rahami family live and work at the address. A restaurant called “First American Fried Chicken” is also located on the ground floor of the same structure.
According to neighbors and court records, the family ran the fried chicken restaurant for years.
It was a local late night hangout, said one neighbor Andre Almeida, 24, who lives down the street and often ate there late at night.
The family seemed fairly Westernized, Almeida said. But then three or four years ago, he said, he noticed the family started wearing religious garb and stopped wearing western clothes. “I thought it was weird. They had embraced American culture.”
But, he said he never felt like they had any animosity towards other people.
A childhood friend of Ahmad Rahami said he used to play basketball with the suspect at a court a few blocks from the family’s restaurant.
“I was shocked to see his picture. I said, ‘No, not Mohammed’s son.’ They were really nice,” said Flee Jones, 27. Jones said the family’s restaurant often gave him water and free food.
He and Ahmad used to do rap battles at the restaurant and hang out there late. He said the family nicknamed Ahmad “Med.”
People in the neighborhood all knew they were Muslim, Jones said, but no one sensed they had any animosity towards other people.
Court records show that several members of the Rahami family had owned and operated the American Fried Chicken at the address searched by the FBI Monday since 2002. It is unclear when Ahmad Rahami himself lived there or what role – if any – he had in the business.
But in 2011, the Rahami family sued the City of Elizabeth and several police officers, alleging they had been inappropriately cited for keeping their business open past 10 p.m. and harassed by police. They claimed a man in the neighborhood told them, “You are Muslims” and “Muslims make too much trouble in this country” and complained unfairly to law enforcement, who singled them out “solely on animus against [their] religion, creed, race and national origin,” according to court records.
In one instance, they alleged, two Rahami family members were actually arrested for attempting to record a conversation with officers.
A business owner across the street from the fried chicken place called the family “outcasts.”
“They were angry,” said Marcella Perrotti, who owns a hair salon across the street. Perrotti described ELizabeth as a small town with a tight knit community, but the Rahami family stayed well outside of it.
“Never would I think in a million years that something like this would happen here,” she said.
In a 2005 bankruptcy filing, the patriarch of the family, Mohammed Rahami described himself as the father of eight children and was separated from his wife. He listed himself as a cook at a fried chicken restaurant with an income back in 2005 of $1,447 a month.
Law enforcement officials said they were investigating whether Rahami could have been influenced by international militant groups or the ongoing conflict in his homeland.
Evidence is pointing in that direction.
A man who described himself as a childhood friend of the 28-year-old busted today in connection with this weekend’s New York-area bombings told the Herald the suspect made a life-changing trip to Afghanistan two years ago. ”
At one point he left to go to Afghanistan, and two years ago he came back, popped up out of nowhere and he was real religious,” friend Flee Jones, 27, said of suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami. “And it was shocking. I’m trying to understand what’s going on. I’ve never seen him like this.”