Ahmad Khan Rahami Arrested in New Jersey After Police Shoot Off [Video]

ahmad-captured
ahmad-captured

Following a cellphone alert that was sent out to NY & NJ locals about an “armed and dangerous” suspect following the terrorist bombing in NYC on Saturday, alleged suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami has been arrested following a shootout with police.

Via: NYTimes

The man believed to be responsible for the explosion in Manhattan on Saturday night and an earlier bombing in New Jersey, Ahmad Khan Rahami, was taken into custody on Monday after he was wounded in a gunfight with the police, according to law enforcement officials.

The dramatic episode on a rain-soaked street in Linden, N.J., came after the police issued a cellphone alert to millions of residents in the area telling them to be on the lookout for Mr. Rahami, 28, who was described as “armed and dangerous.”

The scene in Linden, N.J., where Ahmad Khan Rahami was arrested on Monday. Credit Bryan Anselm for The New York Times

The showdown started at around 10:30 a.m. when a resident spotted Mr. Rahami sleeping in the doorway of a bar, according to officials.

Capt. James Sarnicki of the Linden Police Department told reporters that one of the officers approached the suspect and when he woke him, he saw that he had a beard that resembled that of the man on the Wanted poster.

The officer ordered Mr. Rahami to show hands, Captain Sarnicki said, but instead, he pulled out a handgun.

He shot the officer in the abdomen, Captain Sarnicki said, but the bullet struck his vest.

“The officer returned fire,” he said. Mr. Rahami fled,indiscriminantly firing his weapons at passing vehicles.”

Other officers joined the chase, and Mr. Rahami was shot multiple times. At least one other officer was injured during the confrontation.

Investigators in Elizabeth, N.J., near the last known residence of Ahmad Khan Rahami, who was arrested on Monday in the weekend bombing in Manhattan. Credit Bryan Anselm for The New York Times

Shortly before noon, Mr. Rahami was in custody, seen by witnesses splayed out beside the street, hands cuffed behind his back and his shirt rolled up, officers standing over him with their weapons drawn.

Mr. Rahami, blood pouring from a wound in his shoulder and splattered on his face, was loaded onto a stretcher and taken away in an ambulance.

Derek Pelligra, the manager of Linden Auto Body, described a wild end to the multistate manhunt. “Lot of, lot of gunfire,” he said.

Mr. Rahami was identified by officials on surveillance video planting the bombs in Chelsea, both the device that exploded on 23rd Street and another that did not detonate a few blocks away. His fingerprint was also found on one of the pressure cooker bombs in Manhattan, according to a senior law enforcement official.

The police believe that he was also responsible for a backpack full of pipe bombs found in Elizabeth, N.J., late Sunday.

Mr. Rahami was born on Jan. 23, 1988, in Afghanistan. He was described as a naturalized citizen who had been living with his family in Elizabeth, not far from where he was arrested. Associates said that several years ago Mr. Rahami traveled to his homeland and when he returned, he showed signs of radicalization. The significance of the visit was not immediately clear. It was not known whether he had any links to an overseas terror organization, or whether he had been inspired by such organizations and their propaganda efforts, as others have been.

A law enforcement official said the Federal Bureau of Investigation was also investigating whether a second person might have helped him carry out his plan.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, who said on Sunday that the attack did not appear to have a link to international terrorism, said new evidence might change that thinking.

“I would not be surprised if we did have a foreign connection to the act,” Mr. Cuomo said on CNN on Monday morning.

A law enforcement official, who agreed to speak about the investigation only on the condition of anonymity, said they had conclusive evidence that Mr. Rahami was connected not just to the Manhattan explosion in the Chelsea neighborhood, but also to a bombing that took place earlier on Saturday on the Jersey Shore in Seaside Park.

The city’s police commissioner, James P. O’Neill, had directed the entire patrol force of the New York Police Department — 36,000 officers — to step up their vigilance and be on the alert for Mr. Rahami.

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Dozens of officers and federal agents zeroed in on locations in New Jersey. At the same time, more than 1,000 officers from the city police force’s Critical Response Command and Emergency Service Unit were working to secure New York City landmarks, commuter hubs and other sensitive sites.

By midmorning on Monday, the police had handled dozens of calls for suspicious packages. Hours before Mr. Rahami was captured, the police discovered five pipe bombs near a train station in Elizabeth, detonating one of them overnight as they sought to disarm them.

F.B.I. agents with dogs and Elizabeth police officers swarmed a residential neighborhood of low-rise apartment buildings, multiple family homes and small businesses.

Law enforcement officers closed and evacuated La Bottega Dei Sapori deli and Sonia’s Beauty, a salon to the left of the restaurant, as well as HR Computer and Communication Services Inc.

The law enforcement official said that while there was no direct evidence yet linking Mr. Rahami to the Islamic State or Al Qaeda, much about him remained unknown.

“We don’t know his particular ideology or what his inspiration was or whether he was directed or whether he was inspired,” the official said. “We don’t have any of that.”

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As the search focused on Mr. Rahamani late on Sunday night, the police stopped a car on the Belt Parkway near the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in Brooklyn and took in five people who were connected to Mr. Rahami for questioning.

Police chased down leads on both sides of the Hudson overnight, including the tip that led to the discovery of the pipe bombs in Elizabeth.

The F.B.I. sent a pair of robots to examine a suspicious backpack and determined that the backpack held five bombs, some of which were pipe bombs.

Around 12:30 a.m., the robots tried to clip a wire to disarm one bomb and accidentally detonated it, the mayor said. No injuries were reported.

Mr. Bollwage, speaking at a news conference on Monday morning, described how the Rahami family had issues with the city in the past, mainly surrounding the operation of their family restaurant, First American Fried Chicken.

Mr. Rahami’s father, Muhammad, opened the restaurant about a decade ago and employed his sons, the mayor said.

It was open 24 hours a day, but neighbors complained about rowdy crowds that would gather at the place, often after midnight.

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Responding to the complaints, the City Council passed an ordinance that would force the restaurant to close late at night, the mayor said.

“The City Council voted to shut it down at 10 p.m.,” he said. “They kept getting complaints from neighbors, it was a distress to people in the neighborhood.” The Rahamis did not comply, according to neighbors.

On one occasion when the police came to force the restaurant to close, one of Mr. Rahami’s older brothers got in a fight with a police officer and was arrested. Before the case could be resolved, Mr. McDermott said, the son fled to his home country, Afghanistan.

A frequent patron of the restaurant, Ryan McCann, 33, said Ahmad Rahami was friendly and did not seem outwardly angry. Rather, Mr. McCann said, he was obsessed with fast cars, specifically Honda civics custom built to race.

Mr. Rahami wore Western clothing, hung out on the sidewalk with friends and often slipped his regular customers free food, he said.

“He’s a very friendly guy; he gave me free chicken,” Mr. McCann said. “He was always the most friendly man you ever met.”

To other customers, however, the Rahami family seemed reserved.

“They seemed secretive, a little mysterious,” said Jessica Casanova, 23, a neighbor. “They’re too serious all the time.

Another neighbor, Joshua Sanchez, 24, was also struck by the familiar insularity inside the chicken restaurant he referred to as “the shack.”

“The dad and him would always be together at the shack, just them two, family business,” he said. “They never hired people, it was just the father and the son all the time.”