Bombing Suspect Drew FBI’s Attention In 2014 After Domestic Dispute

September 20, 2016

A domestic dispute in 2014 triggered FBI scrutiny into Ahmad Khan Rahami, who late Tuesday was charged in the Saturday bombings in Manhattan and in New Jersey.

The new charges against Rahami come from federal prosecutors — four counts filed in New York and six counts in New Jersey — include use of a weapon of mass destruction, bombing a public place and destruction of property. Rahami previously had been charged in New Jersey in connection with the shootout that led to his arrest Monday.

The federal charging documents say Rahami had been buying components online for months, shipping them all to his workplace, NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston told All Things Considered. The documents also indicate that a diary, which authorities say is Rahami’s, refers to calls for jihad at home if one is unable to travel and mentions “brother Osama Bin Laden.”

A law enforcement official said that Rahami’s father, Mohammad R. Rahami, had called New Jersey police two years ago over a dispute involving his son, but later retracted his complaint.

When these types of complaints come in, they usually go into the FBI’s Guardian Threat Tracking System, which prompts a limited level of investigation and surveillance.

In a statement, the FBI said that it “conducted internal database reviews, interagency checks, and multiple interviews, none of which revealed ties to terrorism.”

According to The New York Times, which first reported the FBI contact, Mohammad Rahami told local police he suspected his son might be involved in terrorism.

The newspaper interviewed the father, who said:

” ‘Two years ago I go to the F.B.I. because my son was doing really bad, O.K.?’ he said. ‘But they check almost two months, they say, ‘He’s O.K., he’s clean, he’s not a terrorist.’ I say O.K.’

“He added: ‘Now they say he is a terrorist. I say O.K.’ ”

According to court documents, prosecutors wanted to charge Rahami over a domestic dispute. The documents show prosecutors presented a grand jury with aggravated assault charges, arguing that Rahami allegedly stabbed a relative named Nasim Rahami in the leg. The grand jury, however, found there was not enough evidence to indict Rahami.

Talking to reporters outside his home, Mohammad R. Rahami said he had called police on his son because he “stabbed my son” and “hit my wife.”

“I put him in jail two years ago,” the elder Rahami said.

Ahmad Rahami was taken into custody again Monday after a short but intense manhunt, and was charged later that day with five counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer and two counts related to possession of a weapon.

Tuesday’s charges are related to a pressure-cooker bomb that went off Saturday night in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan that injured dozens, a pipe bomb explosion that morning in Seaside Park, N.J., and a collection of pipe bombs discovered Sunday at a train station in Elizabeth, N.J.

The investigation is now focused on motive.

Quoting two law enforcement and intelligence sources, NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston sends us this update on the investigation:

— Rahami started talking to law enforcement this morning. It’s unclear how helpful he is being. It’s also unclear whether he was read his Miranda rights — it appears he initially talked without having been read his rights, which happens often in terrorism cases.

— Officials are trying to determine whether Rahami’s wife is still in the country.

— Two sources tell NPR that a note mentioning the Boston Marathon bombers and radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was found near an undetonated bomb found on West 27th Street in New York City.

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