Monday 19 November 2018

Man convicted of planting bombs on New York streets that injured 30

File picture of Ahmad Khan Rahimi being led into court (AP)
File picture of Ahmad Khan Rahimi being led into court (AP)

A man was convicted on Monday of planting two pressure-cooker bombs on New York City streets, including one that injured 30 people with a rain of shrapnel when it detonated in a bustling neighbourhood on a weekend night last summer.

The verdict in Manhattan came after a two-week trial of 29-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahimi, an Afghanistan-born man living in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

The charges, including using a weapon of mass destruction and bombing a public place, carry a maximum punishment of life in prison.

Prosecutors said Rahimi considered himself "a soldier in a holy war against Americans" and was inspired by the Islamic State group and al Qaida to carry out the late summer attacks in New York and New Jersey.

He was found guilty of all the charges against him.

The defence said it will appeal.

In his closing argument, Assistant US Attorney Emil Bove described an unusually large amount of evidence that pointed to Rahimi.

His fingerprints and DNA were found on bombs in the September 17 2016, attacks.

Dozens of videos tracked his movements as he dragged the bombs in suitcases through Manhattan streets, and they also captured the explosion at 23rd Street in the Chelsea neighbourhood that injured 30 people.

The second bomb did not detonate.

As a bomb squad investigator testified, prosecutors showed jurors a mangled, waist-high rubbish bin that was sent flying 120 feet across a busy street by the bomb.

The government called it a miracle that nobody was killed by the explosive, which scattered ball bearings meant to serve as shrapnel.

If that was not enough, Mr Bove said, jurors could look at a small notebook that was on Rahimi when he was arrested two days after the attack following a shootout with police in New Jersey.

The prosecutor said Mr Rahimi's written words provided a confession as he took responsibility for the bombings in a "claim of credit" for attacks that left him feeling proud.

He still faces charges in New Jersey related to the shootout.

He has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder of police officers.

Assistant public defender Sabrina Shroff did not deny evidence linking Rahimi to the 23rd Street bomb but asked jurors to question whether Rahimi really intended for the 27th Street bomb to go off.

She urged the jury to acquit Rahimi of three charges that could result in a mandatory life prison sentence.

And she expressed compassion for those injured by the blast, some of whom gave evidence during the trial.

"This is a difficult case for all of us because we are all New Yorkers," Ms Shroff said.

Prosecutors said Rahimi left his home before sunrise to plant a pipe bomb along the route of a Marine Corps charity race in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, an oceanside community.

No one was injured in the explosion because the race had been delayed. It was then cancelled.

Hours later, Rahimi went into Manhattan, where he was seen walking from Penn Station to the street locations where two bombs were placed.

AP

Press Association

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