Ahmad Khan Rahami bought bomb ingredients on eBay and recorded a mirthful video of himself igniting a blast in a backyard.
In a handwritten journal, he warned that bombs would resound in the streets and prayed he would be martyred rather than caught, authorities said.
Rahami’s jihad journal ended with a stark message, according to court papers: “Death to your oppression.”
Federal court complaints filed on Tuesday gave a chilling glimpse into what authorities say motivated the Afghan-born US citizen to set off explosives last weekend in New York City and New Jersey, including a bomb that injured 31 people in Manhattan. The blasts came two years after the FBI looked into him, but came up with nothing tying him to terrorism.
Rahami remains hospitalized with gunshot wounds from a shootout with police that led to his capture on Monday outside a bar in Linden, New Jersey. It was not immediately clear whether he had a lawyer who could comment on the charges against him, which include federal terror crimes and state charges of attempting to murder police officers.
Rahami ordered citric acid, ball bearings and electronic igniters on eBay and had them delivered to a Perth Amboy, New Jersey, business where he worked until Sept. 12, the court complaints said.
San Jose, California-based eBay Inc said the products are legal and widely available, adding that the company had worked with law enforcement on the investigation.
Just two days before Saturday’s bombings, a relative’s cellphone recorded Rahami igniting incendiary material in a cylinder buried in a backyard, the fuse being lighted, a loud noise and flames, “followed by billowing smoke and laughter,” the complaints said.
In his journal, he fumed that the US government was slaughtering Muslim holy warriors and alluded to plans for revenge, the complaints said.
One portion expressed concern at the prospect of being caught before being able to carry out a suicide attack and the desire to be a martyr. Another section included a reference to “pipe bombs” and a “pressure cooker bomb” and declared: “In the streets they plan to run a mile,” an apparent reference to one of the blast sites, a charity run in Seaside Park, New Jersey.
There also were laudatory references to Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki — the US-born Muslim cleric who was killed in a 2011 drone strike and whose preaching has inspired other acts of violence — and Nidal Hasan, the former US Army officer who went on a deadly shooting rampage in 2009 at Fort Hood, Texas, the complaints said.
The FBI has said Rahami apparently was not on its radar at the time of the bombing. However, he was in 2014, when the FBI opened up an “assessment” — its least intrusive form of inquiry — based on comments from his father after a domestic dispute, the bureau said in a statement.
“The FBI conducted internal database reviews, interagency checks and multiple interviews, none of which revealed ties to terrorism,” the bureau said.
A law enforcement official said the FBI spoke with Rahami’s father in 2014 after agents learned of his concerns that the son could be a terrorist. During the inquiry, the father backed away from talk of terrorism and told investigators that he simply meant his son was hanging out with the wrong crowd, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Rahami’s father, Mohammad, told reporters on Tuesday he called the FBI at the time because Rahami “was doing real bad,” having stabbed his brother and hit his mother. Rahami was not prosecuted in the stabbing; a grand jury declined to indict him.
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