Authorities have taken into custody a 28-year-old U.S. citizen of Afghan descent, Ahmad Khan Rahami, who has been linked to planting two pressure cooker bombs in New York City on Saturday that wounded 29 people and suspected of placing several other similar explosive devices throughout New Jersey as part of a bombing spree.
Some of the bombs did not go off and others that did failed to hurt anyone save for the bomb exploding in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.
Rahami lived in Elizabeth, where police found five pipe bombs at the city’s train station in a bag, and he worked at his family’s business, First American Fried Chicken. Patrons of the restaurant described Rahami to the New York Times as “gregarious” and friendly, Western-seeming and polite to customers. “He’s a very friendly guy, he gave me free chicken,” Ryan McCann, a regular at the restaurant, said. Rahami, he claimed, “always talked about fast Honda civics, about how he loved them.”
Local New York news outlet DNAinfo.com notes that the suspect reportedly ran a website on which he shared his radical Islamist views. It is unclear when he became a U.S. citizen, but DNAinfo learned that he traveled back to Afghanistan a few years ago with his family.
“He was really religious [after the trip],” Flee Jones, 27, identified as a friend of Rahami, told the local news outlet.
“We used to joke that they were terrorists, but they never took it serious,” added the friend.
Jones told the Boston Herald that Rahami appeared to change his demeanor after a visit home to his native Afghanistan. “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, and it was shocking,” he said. “I’m trying to understand what’s going on. I’ve never seen him like this.”
The arrest Monday morning came after the FBI New York field office released a wanted poster for Rahami, warning in capital letters, that he “SHOULD BE CONSIDERED ARMED AND DANGEROUS.”
The New York Times (NYT) reports:
The dramatic arrest of the man, Ahmad Khan Rahami, came after the police issued a cellphone alert to millions of residents in the area telling them to be on the lookout for the suspect, who was described as ‘armed and dangerous.’
Mr. Rahami, 28, was identified on surveillance video near the locations of both the bomb that exploded in Chelsea [NYC] and another device that did not detonate a few blocks away… It remained unclear whether there were other suspects who the police were searching for in the connection with the bombing.
Rahami is a United States citizen of Afghan descent. It is unclear when he became a citizen. However, it is known that he traveled back to Afghanistan a few years ago with his family.
His last known address was in Elizabeth, New Jersey where he lived with his family after emigrating from Afghanistan.
He reportedly lived with three brothers, a sister, and their father.