Bombing Suspect Spent Time In Afghanistan And Had Money Trouble

September 19, 2016

Here’s what we know about Ahmad Khan Rahami, the suspect in weekend bombings in New York and New Jersey, who was taken into custody on Monday after a shootout with police and charged with five counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer and two counts related to possession of a weapon:

  • He was born in Afghanistan on Jan. 23, 1988.
  • It’s unclear when Rahami first came to the United States. He is now an American citizen. Records indicate that his father, Mohammad R. Rahami, now 53, got a Social Security card in New Jersey in 1989 or 1990.
  • The father incorporated his restaurant, First American Fried Chicken, in 2003 and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2005 in Newark. He and his wife, Najiba, were separated, according to bankruptcy documents, which also showed he was responsible for eight dependent children.
  • Rahami graduated from Edison High School, in Edison, N.J., in 2007.
  • In 2008, Rahami was sued for child support, totaling $996, by a New Jersey woman named Maria Mena.
  • Rahami briefly attended Middlesex County College in Edison. A spokesman there says he studied criminal justice from the fall of 2010 to the fall of 2012. He didn’t graduate.
  • Around 2012, Rahami went to Afghanistan, according to neighbors interviewed by The New York Times. Some say when he returned, he had changed. The Times quotes neighbors who say Rahami grew a beard, traded his jeans and T-shirts for robes and began to pray in the back of the family’s restaurant.
  • Rahami has had money problems. He was sued in small claims court in 2012. He was evicted from an apartment in 2013.
  • Rahami worked at his family’s fried chicken restaurant, on Elmora Avenue in Elizabeth. Recently, he lived above the restaurant.
  • The Rahami family says they were the target of anti-Muslim harassment. They filed a lawsuit in 2011 against the city of Elizabeth, the police department and a neighbor. The lawsuit says the restaurant was cited multiple times — from July 4, 2008, to April 28, 2010 — for staying open past 10 p.m. The family says the complaints were spurred by James Dean McDermott, a neighbor, who came into the restaurant and said: “Muslims make too much trouble in this country” and “Muslims don’t belong here.” McDermott, in court documents, denied saying that. Elizabeth’s mayor, Christian Bollwage, told NPR that the dispute had nothing to do with religion, but with noise and loitering.
  • State records show no criminal history for Rahami. But according to the New York Times, “a high-ranking law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation” says Rahami spent over three months in the Union County Jail on weapons and aggravated assault charges in 2014. A grand jury declined to indict him. The Times also quoted the official as saying Rahami spent a day in jail in February 2012 for allegedly violating a restraining order, and in October 2008 he spent another day in jail for unpaid traffic tickets.
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