Up-Date LIVE: NY-NJ Bomber Charged With Murder

The bomber keeps a detailed journal. 

By: Jim Williams – Washington Bureau Chief for News Talk Florida

NEW YORK – Ahmad Rahami was charged with attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, prosecutors said. Bail was set at $5.2 million.

He was named as a person of interest in the weekend explosions in New York City and New Jersey, has been charged with five counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.

He is also charged with second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon and second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.

Rahami was taken into custody and hospitalized yesterday after a shootout with police in Linden, New Jersey, the Union County acting prosecutor said today. He has been “directly linked” to the devices used in the New York and New Jersey explosions on Saturday, FBI official Bill Sweeney said. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said this afternoon there is “every reason to believe this was an act of terror.”

The man who placed bombs around the New York and New Jersey is now in a prison hospital in New Jersey. He is recovering from non-life threatening injuries he received during a shootout yesterday.

It is looking more and more like  Raham, the suspected person behind the New York and New Jersey bombings was self-radicalized. He kept a very detailed journal according to multiple media reports and it is now in the custody of the FBI and other law enforcement outlets.

The writings were apparently on Rahami when he allegedly engaged in a firefight with police, and the pages were shot through with a bullet. The officials said that in them, Rahami refers to the late American al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, whose sermons and writings have been linked to a number of terrorist attacks and plots in the U.S.

As of late Monday, authorities had not determined a motive for Rahami, who has been linked to bombings over the weekend in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea and in New Jersey, as well as a number of unexploded devices. Though two of the explosives were housed in pressure cookers, as was the case in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, the officials said there was no mention in Rahami’s purported writings of the perpetrators of that attack, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Meanwhile, to neighbors and customers of his family’s storefront chicken takeout, Ahmad Khan Rahami was a friendly, quiet presence behind the counter who liked talking about cars and was generous with free food.

So when the 28-year-old Afghan immigrant was apprehended Monday as the lead person of interest in bombings in New York and New Jersey, those who knew him expressed shock, questioning whether his turn to religiosity in recent years might have hinted at views otherwise kept hidden.

Rahami’s father and brothers had long nursed tensions with neighbors and officials in Elizabeth, New Jersey, over the restaurant’s late hours, a conflict the family claimed in a lawsuit was the result of discrimination against them as Muslims.

But Ahmad Rahami’s demeanor — increasingly devout but more likely to talk about worldly pursuits than his faith — never hinted at anything but goodwill, customers said.

“He’d always talk about his cars. He loved his Civics, he loved going fast,” said Ryan McCann, a frequent customer at First American Fried Chicken, the restaurant that Rahami’s father, Mohammed Rahami, has run since 2002. “He was so friendly he’d give us free chicken here and there, just because we shopped there so much.”

Ahmad Rahami, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was taken into custody after a shootout with police in Linden, a nearby town.

A law enforcement official says fingerprints and surveillance video helped investigators identify him as the man suspected of setting off bombs in the New York area over the weekend. The official says he’s seen in surveillance footage “clear as day” at the scene of the Saturday night bombing in Manhattan.

The official says investigators recovered his fingerprints from the scene.

A Democratic New Jersey congressman, Albio Sires, said Rahami contacted his office from Pakistan in 2014 seeking help because his wife had an expired Pakistani passport.

Sires said his office wrote a letter to the U.S. embassy in Pakistan to check on the status of the case and the woman received a visa. He said he didn’t know if she ever came to the country, and the FBI didn’t answer when asked about it Monday.

Neighbors had complained to Elizabeth officials that the Rahamis’ restaurant was a late-night nuisance, Democratic Elizabeth Mayor Christian Bollwage said.

Rahami’s father and two brothers sued the city in 2011 after Elizabeth police said the restaurant stayed open past 10 p.m. in violation of a local ordinance. The Rahamis charged in the lawsuit they were targeted by police because they’re Muslims.

The harassment, the lawsuit alleged, was based largely on the complaints to officials by one neighbor who regularly walked into the restaurant to tell them that “Muslims don’t belong here” and “Muslims are trouble.”

Adjudication of the lawsuit was put on hold in 2011 when the elder Rahami traveled to Pakistan and was unable to return to the U.S. in time, court filings show. The lawsuit was terminated in 2012 because one of the brothers, Mohammad K. Rahami, had pleaded guilty to blocking police from enforcing restrictions on the restaurant.

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But neighbors aware of tensions over the restaurant said Ahmad Rahami was easy to get along with, if somewhat reserved.

“He was just very quiet,” said Jorge Vasquez, who owns a business a block over and frequently visited the restaurant.

As police searched for Ahmad Rahami on Monday, the owner of a bar in Linden found a man sleeping in his hallway. The man was initially presumed to be a vagrant, but police officers who responded quickly realized it was Rahami, Democratic Linden Mayor Derek Armstead said.

Quotes in this story came from CNN and ASSOCIATED PRESS also we would like to thank our LIVESTREAM Partner WNYW – FOX 5 NEW YORK for the live coverage.

Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.