NEW YORK, United States, Sep 21 — The Afghan-born American held on suspicion of bombing New York had a violent past, allegedly stabbing his brother after returning from a year in Pakistan, and reportedly possessed a notebook that mentioned Al-Qaeda.
Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, was shot multiple times and captured by police Monday after being spotted in the doorway of a bar in Linden, New Jersey. The FBI had released his name and mugshot, setting off an intensive manhunt.
Rahami underwent surgery and was in “critical but stable” condition, New York police chief James O’Neill said Tuesday. But so far he has not spoken to interrogators.
He has been charged with unlawful weapon possession and five counts of attempted murder of a police official. US media reported he was captured with a bullet-torn notebook that contained pro-Al-Qaeda writings.
He has yet to be slapped with terror charges over Saturday night’s bombing in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, which wounded 29 people, and a pipe bombing along the route of a US Marine Corps race in New Jersey.
The FBI is now analyzing eight other unexploded bombs recovered from Manhattan and New Jersey, fingerprints and DNA, for clues as to how he may have become radicalized, and whether he acted alone.
The notebook found on Rahami included references to US-born Al-Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a US drone strike in Yemen in 2011, and the 2013 Boston bombers, CNN reported.
“He doing bad, he stabbed my son, he hit my wife,” Rahami’s father Mohammad told reporters when asked why he called authorities in 2014 to tell them his son was a danger and reportedly calling him a terrorist.
– Email from Pakistan –
In August 2014, Rahami was charged with aggravated assault and unlawfully possessing a knife after being accused of stabbing Nasim Rahami in the leg.
He reportedly spent three months in jail but was never prosecuted.
Two years earlier in February 2012, he was also accused of violating a domestic violence restraining order, according to court filings in Elizabeth.
Investigators suspect that Rahami built 10 bombs, only two of which exploded — the one in Chelsea and the pipe bomb in the New Jersey town of Seaside Park.
Two other pipe bombs in Seaside Park failed to detonate, as did a pressure cooker device in Chelsea, and five pipe bombs in his hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, which were defused safely on Monday.
“I think it’s a good sign that he was found in a doorway. Hopefully that means he had nowhere to go,” O’Neill told CBS News.
Officials say Rahami travelled “extensively” in recent years to Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he married his wife, who then fell pregnant.
Local congressman Albio Sires said Rahami sought his help to obtain a visa for his heavily pregnant wife to travel to the United States in 2014.
“He sent an email to my office from Pakistan, and he had said to me that he had been in Pakistan since April 2013 and we received the email on March 2014,” Sires told CNN.
– Love child –
His wife left the United States shortly before the attack and was stopped in the United Arab Emirates, US media reported.
Officials say so far they have found no connection between Rahami and any militant groups, including the Taliban or Islamic State (IS).
He worked at the family’s fried chicken restaurant, where The New York Times quoted friends as saying that he started praying and wore traditional clothes after returning from Afghanistan.
He was also father to a child with his American high school girlfriend, who is now requesting full custody, filing court documents that list Rahami as “under terrorist investigation.”
The woman complained to Fox that he failed to pay child support. In court papers, she said she last spoke to him on the telephone in January.
Another line of inquiry may be whether the family’s tussles over their business could have played a role in radicalizing Rahami.
His family sued the city of Elizabeth in 2011, accusing it and local police of discrimination, because they were Muslim and Afghans, in forcing them to close their chicken restaurant by 10:00 pm. The suit was settled in favor of the city.
In Minnesota, police also say they have uncovered nothing to tie a Somali American man who went on a stabbing rampage at a Minnesota shopping mall on Saturday to organized extremist groups or the East Coast attacks.