Friday 28 October 2016

'The sounds of bombs will be heard in streets' - US terror suspect vowed

Published 21/09/2016 | 06:54

Ahmad Khan Rahami is taken into custody after the shoot-out with police in Linden, New Jersey (NJ Advance Media/AP)
Ahmad Khan Rahami is taken into custody after the shoot-out with police in Linden, New Jersey (NJ Advance Media/AP)

Ahmad Khan Rahami vowed to martyr himself rather than be caught after setting off explosives in New York and New Jersey and hoped "the sounds of bombs will be heard in the streets", authorities said as they filed charges against him.

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Criminal complaints in Manhattan and New Jersey federal courts provided chilling descriptions of the motivations that authorities said drove the Afghan-born US citizen to set off explosives in New York and New Jersey, including a bomb that injured more than 31 people when it blew up in a busy Manhattan street.

Meanwhile, more details emerged about Rahami's past, including the disclosure that the FBI had looked into him in 2014, but came up with nothing.

According to the court complaint, a handwritten journal by Rahami, 28, that championed jihad, included a passage that said: "You (USA Government) continue your (unintelligible) slaught(er)" against the mujahideen, or holy warriors, in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

"Death to your oppression," the journal ended.

One 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.

Another section included a reference to "pipe bombs" and a "pressure cooker bomb" and declared: "In the streets they plan to run a mile" - an apparent reference to one of the blast sites, a charity run in a New Jersey shore town.

There also were 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 was already being held on 5.2 million dollars' (£4m) bail, charged with the attempted murder of police officers during the shoot-out that led to his capture Monday outside a bar in Linden, New Jersey.

Rahmani remains in hospital with gunshot wounds.

The court complaint describes Rahami buying bomb-making equipment so openly that he ordered citric acid, ball bearings and electronic igniters on eBay and had them delivered to a Perth Amboy, New Jersey, business where he worked until earlier this month.

Video recorded two days before the bombings and recovered from a family member's phone shows him igniting incendiary material in a cylinder, then shows the fuse being lighted, a loud noise and flames, followed by billowing smoke and laughter, the complaint said.

Federal agents would like to question Rahami but New Jersey Republican congressman. Tom MacArthur, who received a classified briefing from the FBI, said he was not co-operating,which could also be a reflection of his injuries.

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 organisations.

In 2014 the FBI opened up an "assessment," the least intrusive form of an FBI inquiry, based on comments from his father after a domestic dispute, the bureau said in a statement.

"The FBI conducted internal database reviews, inter-agency checks and multiple interviews, none of which revealed ties to terrorism," the agency said.

A law enforcement official said the FBI spoke to Rahami's father in 2014 after agents learned of his concerns that the son could be a terrorist.

During the inquiry, the father backed away from talk of terrorism and told investigators that he simply meant his son was mixing with the wrong crowd, according to the official.

Rahami's father told reporters on Tuesday outside the family's fried chicken restaurant in Elizabeth, New Jersey, that he called the FBI at the time because Rahami "was doing real bad", having stabbed a brother and hit his mother. Rahami was not prosecuted in the stabbing - a grand jury declined to indict him.

"But they checked, almost two months, and they say, 'He's OK, he's clear, he's not terrorist'. Now they say he's a terrorist," his father said. Asked whether he thought his son was a terrorist, he said: "No. And the FBI, they know that."

The bombing investigation began when a pipe bomb blew up on Saturday morning in Seaside Park, New Jersey, before a charity race to benefit US Marines. No one was injured.

Then a shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bomb exploded on Saturday night in New York's Chelsea section, wounding 31 people, none seriously. An unexploded pressure-cooker bomb was found streets away with Rahami's fingerprints on it and his face captured by a nearby surveillance camera, according to the court complaint.

Late on Sunday night, five explosive devices were discovered in a rubbish bin at an railway station in Elizabeth.

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