US portrays NY bomb suspect as jihadist who praised Bin Laden
An Afghan-born man, suspected of weekend bombings in New York and New Jersey, has been arrested.
NEW YORK - Federal prosecutors on Tuesday charged the Afghan-born man suspected of weekend bombings in New York and New Jersey with 10 counts including use of weapons of mass destruction, portraying him as a jihadist who begged for martyrdom and praised Osama bin Laden.
The suspect, Ahmad Khan Rahami, bought bomb components on eBay, made a video of himself testing out homemade explosives, and kept a journal expressing outrage at the US "slaughter" of mujahideen in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Palestine, federal officials allege.
"Inshallah (God willing), the sounds of bombs will be heard in the streets. Gun shots to your police. Death to your oppression," Rahami, who came to the United States at age 7, wrote in a journal he was carrying when arrested.
Rahami was apprehended on Monday in Linden, New Jersey, after a shootout with police that left him with multiple gunshot wounds. He was listed in critical but stable condition on Tuesday, and police had not yet been able to interview him in depth, New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill said. Federal prosecutors from separate districts in New York and New Jersey charged him with four and six counts respectively.
In addition to leaving the bomb that exploded on Saturday evening in the Manhattan district of Chelsea that wounded 31 people, they allege he planted a pipe bomb on the New Jersey shore that injured no one when it exploded on Saturday morning.
He also is accused of planting another pressure-cooker bomb in Chelsea that failed to explode, and multiple devices at a train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey. One of those exploded as a bomb squad robot attempted to defuse it.
The charging documents and accompanying sworn statements from Federal Bureau of Investigation agents offer the first official explanation of what they believe to be the bomber's motive.
As the charges were made public, the White House for the first time said it appeared the attacks were an act of terrorism. Earlier in the investigation, officials had withheld such an assessment until they could discern a motive.
"It does appear this was an act of terrorism," White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said during a press briefing in New York City.
At least one victim in the Chelsea blast was knocked unconscious and another hospitalized to remove ball bearings from her body, metal fragmentation from her ear and wood shards from her neck, the charging documents say.
Surveillance video from the bomb scenes and fingerprints on unexploded devices also point to Rahami, according to the documents.
The three counts of using weapons of mass destruction, one from New York and two from New Jersey, each carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.
In addition to the federal charges, New Jersey state prosecutors from Union County have charged Rahami with five counts of attempted first-degree murder for firing at police officers and two second-degree weapons counts.