NEW YORK (AP) — Championing jihad, bombing suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami vowed to martyr himself rather than be caught after setting off explosives in New York and New Jersey, and he’d hoped in a handwritten journal that “the sounds of bombs will be heard in the streets,” authorities said Tuesday as they filed federal charges against him.
A criminal complaint in Manhattan federal court provided new chilling descriptions of the motivations that authorities said drove the Afghan-born U.S. citizen to set off explosives in New York and New Jersey, including a bomb that injured more than two dozen people when it blew up on a busy Manhattan street.
Meanwhile, more details emerged Tuesday about the Afghan-born U.S. citizen’s past, including the disclosure that the FBI had looked into him in 2014 but came up with nothing.
According to the court complaint, Rahami’s journal included a passage that said: “You (USA Government) continue your (unintelligible) slaught(er)” against the mujahideen, or holy warriors, “be it Afghanistan, Iraq, Sham (Syria), Palestine … .”
Another portion expressed concern at the prospect of being caught before being able to carry out a suicide attack and the desire to be a martyr, the complaint said.
It added that another part included a reference, on a page that is largely unintelligible, to “pipe bombs” and a “pressure cooker bomb,” and declared: “In the streets they plan to run a mile.”
There were also laudatory references to Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki – the American-born Muslim cleric who was killed in a 2011 drone strike and whose preaching has inspired other acts of violence – and Nidal Hasan, the former Army officer who went on a deadly shooting rampage in 2009 at Fort Hood, Texas, the complaint said.
Before the federal charges were filed, Rahmani, 28, was already being held on $5.2 million bail, charged with the attempted murder of police officers during the shootout that led to his capture Monday outside a bar in Linden, New Jersey.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Rahami had a lawyer who could comment on the charges. He remained hospitalized with gunshot wounds to the leg, forearm and shoulder.
Federal agents have attempted to question Rahami in the hospital. But Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., who received a classified briefing from the FBI, said Rahami was not cooperating.
The FBI’s 2014 inquiry began after his father expressed concerns his son might be a terrorist, law enforcement officials said Tuesday. During the inquiry, the father backed away from talk of terrorism and told investigators that he simply meant his son was hanging out with the wrong crowd, including gang members, and acting like a thug, the officials said.
In any case, the FBI checked its databases and other sources and closed the inquiry in a matter of weeks after seeing nothing tying the Afghan-born U.S. citizen to terrorism, three law enforcement officials said.
Investigators are looking into Rahami’s overseas travel, including a visit to Pakistan a few years ago, and want to know whether he received any money or training from extremist organizations.
The bombing investigation began when a pipe bomb blew up Saturday morning in Seaside Park, New Jersey, before a charity race to benefit Marines. No one was injured. Then a shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bomb exploded Saturday night in New York’s Chelsea section, wounding 31 people, none seriously. An unexploded pressure-cooker bomb was found blocks away.
Late Sunday night, five explosive devices were discovered in a trash can at an Elizabeth train station.
Photographic and forensic evidence has tied all the incidents to Rahami, MacArthur said.
Rahami provided investigators with a wealth of clues that led to his arrest just 50 hours after the first explosion, including fingerprints and DNA at the scene of the Manhattan bombing and a clear surveillance-camera image of his face near the site of the blast, according to law enforcement officials.