A full-blown manhunt ensued this weekend following two nonfatal bombings Saturday in Manhattan and New Jersey. Police officers located and apprehended suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami on Sunday morning in Linden, New Jersey.
The 28-year-old Afghanistan-born Rahami has since been confirmed as the “main guy” behind Saturday’s bombings. “We have directly linked Rahami to devices in New York and from Saturday in New Jersey,” confirms FBI agent William Sweeney.
The investigation has revealed a bitter past between local authorities and Ahmad, who was convinced that he and his family were racially abused by their neighbors. Ahmad filed a lawsuit against local police in 2011.
Rahami grew up in the US, but made a few recent trips to Pakistan and Afghanistan, where authorities suspect he may have developed an extremist mindset. Rahami’s neighbors confirmed a “marked change in his personality and religious devotion” after a recent trip to the Middle East. “It’s like he was a completely different person,” says childhood friend Flee Jones. “He got serious and completely closed off.”
“We have every reason to believe this was an act of terror,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio shortly following Ahmad’s arrest.
Multiple law enforcement officials worry that a terrorist cell is operating in the New York/ New Jersey area, but President Obama cautioned the press to stop jumping to conclusions. “It does not help if false reports or incomplete information gets out there,” he said on Monday.
Rahami is refusing to cooperate with interrogators, and has been charged with five counts of attempted murder related to the shootout that occurred prior to his arrest. The FBI announced Monday that they believe Rahami acted alone, but others suspect a link between Ahmad’s actions and the attack on a Minnesota mall that occurred the same day.
The Minnesota perpetrator, 22-year-old Somalia native Dahir Adan, shouted to Allah as he injured 10 people in a stabbing rampage at Crossroads Center mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Adan was shot and killed on the scene, and ISIS has heralded him as a “soldier of the Islamic State.”
“Unfortunately with ISIS and their Version 2.0 of terrorism – where anyone claiming to be a surrogate of the terrorist organization is a member of the terrorist organization – you’re going to have people who are, for one reason or another, going to try to commit acts of terror,” explains Bradley Schreiber, a former adviser for the US Department of Homeland Security.
None of the Minnesota victims received life-threatening injuries.