(NEW YORK) — Federal authorities have charged Ahmad Khan Rahami, the suspect in the New York and New Jersey explosions.
Rahami has been charged with use of weapons of mass destruction, bombing a place of public use, destruction of property by means of fire or explosive, and use of a destructive device during and in furtherance of a crime of violence.
In New Jersey, Rahami is charged with two counts of using and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction, one count of bombing and attempting to bomb a place of public use and public transportation system, one count of attempting to destroy property by means of fire or explosive, and two counts of use of a destructive device during and in furtherance of a crime of violence.
The charges were filed late Tuesday.
Rahami “knowingly and unlawfully” delivered, placed, discharged and detonated an explosive device in a place of public use “with the intent to cause death and serious bodily injury” and “extensive destruction,” the federal criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of New York states. He also damaged and destroyed a building, vehicle and other personal property by means of fire and explosive, according to the complaint.
On Saturday morning, an improvised explosive device made from a pipe bomb and using a cell phone to detonate it exploded around 9:35 a.m. near Seaside Park, New Jersey, along a route of the Seaside Semper Five Marine Corps Charity 5K Race, according to the complaint. The race was scheduled to start at 9 a.m. but was delayed more than 30 minutes due to other law enforcement activity.
After the blast, authorities determined that only one of the three connected pipe bombs detonated. They also determined that a cell phone found near the scene with two thin wires protruding from it likely functioned as a timer for the bomb, the complaint states.
Then, at around 8:30 p.m. that night, an explosive device detonated on 23rd Street in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City, causing “significant injuries” and millions of dollars in property damage across a 650-foot crime scene, according to the complaint. The explosive appeared to have been placed inside a pressure cooker, which weighed more than 100 pounds, and left in a dumpster — propelling more than 120 feet after it detonated.
The blast shattered windows up to 400 feet away and more than three stories high, the complaint states. The bomb was packed with ball bearings and steel nuts to increase the fragmentation and thus the lethality of the device, according to the complaint.
About 31 people were injured in the explosion. Their injuries included “lacerations to the face, abdomen, legs and arms caused by flying glass; metal shrapnel and fragmentation embedded in the skin and bone; and various head injuries,” the complaint states.
Authorities found the remnants of a cell phone in the immediate area where the blast on 23rd Street occurred. They believe that it functioned as a timer in the explosion, according to the complaint.
An explosive device that did not detonate was also found on 27th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. It was also made from a pressure cooker connected with wires to a cell phone and packed with a high-explosive main charge, ball bearings and steel nuts, the complaint states.
On Sunday, multiple explosive devices were found inside a backpack near the entrance of the New Jersey Transit station in Elizabeth at around 8:40 p.m. One of the devices detonated at 12:40 a.m. on Monday as a police robot was being used in an attempt to defuse the bomb, according to the complaint.
Authorities were able to inspect the remnants of the detonated device, the remaining devices initially contained in the backpack and handwritten documents found in the backpack. An FBI analysis of fingerprints recovered from the materials contained in the backpack showed a positive match to Rahami, the complaint states. Fingerprints recovered from the bomb found on 27th Street also contained fingerprints matching Rahami, according to the complaint.
Surveillance video from Saturday shows a person authorities believe to be Rahami walking on 23rd Street at 7:53 p.m., about 37 minutes before the explosion, according to the complaint. Surveillance video taken on 27th Street at 8:32 p.m. — about two minutes after the device detonated on 23rd Street — shows a person authorities believe to be Rahami walking on a sidewalk.
The person in the video can be seen pulling a small suitcase behind him as he walks away from the camera, according to the complaint. Shortly after, the person walks back toward the camera without the suitcase, the complaint states.
The materials for the bomb were purchased between June 20 and Aug. 10 on eBay by username “ahmad rahimi,” according to the complaint. Each of the items was shipped to a business in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, though the complaint does not specify which business. Around Aug. 10, the “ahmad rahimi” bought an item containing the description: “Citric Acid USP/ Food Grade 5 Lb Pack- Great for bath bombs and candy making.” Citric acid is a precursor chemical commonly used in improvised explosives, the complaint states.
On July 31, the user bought a circuit board, which are also commonly used in improvised explosives. Other items “ahmad rahimi” purchased on July 12 included E-match electric igniters and ball bearings.
Video recovered from one of Rahami’s family members allegedly shows him igniting incendiary material in a cylindrical container on Thursday at his home in Elizabeth, the complaint states. The video allegedly shows the lighting of a fuse, a loud noise and flames, followed by billowing smoke and laughter, according to the complaint. Rahami then allegedly enters the frame and can be seen picking up the cylindrical container.
Rahami, 28, was taken into custody in Linden, New Jersey, on Monday morning after a shootout with police that occurred hours after police issued an alert looking for him.
Written in a handwritten journal found on Rahami’s person was an expression that the U.S. government continues to “slaughter” Middle Eastern countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Palestine. The writings in the journal also expressed concern at the prospect of being caught before being able to carry out a suicide attack, the complaint states.
The journal contained a reference to instructions from terrorist leaders that if travel is not feasible, to attack nonbelievers where they live, according to the complaint. It also contained references to Nidal Hasan, the man who shot and killed 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2009, and “Brother Osama Bin Laden.”
The journal concluded: “Inshallah [God willing] the sounds of the bombs will be heard in the streets. Gun shots to your police. Death To Your OPPRESSION,” according to the complaint.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday there is “every reason to believe this was an act of terror.” But Bill Sweeney, who heads up the FBI’s New York office, emphasized that there is “no indication that there is a cell operating in the area or in the city.”
Rahami is also facing charges in relation to the shootout with police, including five counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.
This story is developing. Check back for more updates.
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