Wed, Sep 21, 2016 - Page 7 News List

Alleged bomber leaves trail of clues

SWIFT ARREST:New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill said that technology played a big part in the manhunt, ‘but a lot of good, old-fashioned police work, too’


The man suspected of planting bombs in a New York neighborhood and a New Jersey seaside town might have aimed to inflict carnage incognito, but he did not succeed for long in concealing his identity.

Ahmad Khan Rahami provided investigators with a wealth of clues that led to his arrest about 50 hours after the first explosion, three law enforcement officials familiar with the investigation said.

His fingerprints and DNA were found at the scene of the Manhattan bombing, while his uncovered face was clearly captured by surveillance cameras near the spot of the blast, they said.

Electronic toll records showed that a car to which he had access was driven from New Jersey to Manhattan and back to New Jersey the day of the bombing, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss an ongoing case.

Those and other clues spurred officials to publicize his name and photograph on Monday morning, asking for help finding Rahami, 28, a US citizen born in Afghanistan, who lives with his family in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Hours later, a police officer in Linden, New Jersey, recognized Rahami after finding him sleeping in a doorway, prompting a confrontation and shootout that led to his capture.

“A lot of technology involved in this, but a lot of good, old-fashioned police work, too,” New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill said.

O’Neill said that investigators would “make sure that we get to the bottom of who’s involved and why.”

After surgery on a gunshot wound to his leg, Rahami was being held on US$5.2 million bail, charged with five counts of attempted murder of police officers.

Federal prosecutors said they were still weighing charges over the bombings.

Rahami remained hospitalized.

With Rahami’s arrest, officials said they had no other suspects at large, but added that they were still investigating.

Messages left for family members were not immediately returned.

It was not clear when Rahami would get an attorney.

The bombing spread fear across the New York area and revived anxiety about terrorism.

A man who authorities say referred to Allah wounded nine people in a stabbing rampage at a Minnesota mall on Saturday before being shot to death by an off-duty police officer.

Authorities were investigating the stabbings as a possible terrorist attack, but had not drawn any connection between the bloodshed there and the bombings.

William Sweeney Jr, the FBI’s assistant director in New York, said there was no indication so far that the bombings were the work of a larger terror cell.

Rahami was not on any terror or no-fly watch lists, although he had been interviewed for immigration purposes traveling between the US and Afghanistan, one of the law enforcement officials said.

Rahami and his family live above their fried-chicken restaurant — called First American Fried Chicken — and the family has clashed with the city over closing times and noise complaints, which the Rahamis said in a lawsuit were tinged with anti-Muslim sentiment.

The lawsuit was terminated in 2012 because one of Rahami’s brothers had pleaded guilty to blocking police from enforcing closing hours at the restaurant.

A childhood friend, Flee Jones, said Rahami had become more religious after returning from a trip to Afghanistan several years ago.

Some of the family restaurant’s customers said Rahami was more likely to talk about his interest in cars than to mention faith.

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