Ahmad Khan Rahami Charged In New York, New Jersey Bombings

Sep 20, 2016
Originally published on September 20, 2016 9:25 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The federal government is charging Ahmad Khan Rahami in connection with the weekend bombings in New York and New Jersey. Until now Rahami had been held on New Jersey state charges of attempting to kill law enforcement officers in a shootout as they closed in to arrest him.

NPR's Dina Temple-Raston is on the line to talk with us about the federal charges as well as new details on the investigation that may provide some insight into the motive behind the attacks. And Dina, first, what are the new charges?

DINA TEMPLE-RASTON, BYLINE: The new charges are federal - the use and attempt to use weapons of mass destruction, bombing a public place, destruction of property by means of explosives and using a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence. And these are probably only the first federal charges - so a placeholder. Sources tell us there will likely be terrorism charges coming, too.

SHAPIRO: And the criminal complaint also lays out new details about the investigation. Is that right?

TEMPLE-RASTON: That's right. For example, the complaint says that Rahami started buying components for his bombs months ago. He was buying them over the - June to August. He went on eBay with the user name Ahmad Ramani (ph) - Rahami - his actual name.

And the complaint says he bought citric acid, which is a precursor for improvised explosives. He bought circuit boards and igniters for fireworks. The complaint says officials found all these materials in the bombs that they discovered over the weekend, both exploded and unexploded devices.

In July, he bought ball bearings, which were also found in the bombs. They shoot out of a bomb, and they make them more lethal. It's putting shrapnel into the bomb. And he had all of this shipped to the place where he worked until recently, allegedly. The place is called Perth Amboy Business, and the complaint says that he stopped working there around September 12.

SHAPIRO: And what else are investigators finding as they look into these bombs from over the weekend?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, the bombs and surveillance video - the complaint says a car matching the description of Rahami's car was seen on surveillance tape coming in and out of the Lincoln Tunnel, the tunnel that links New Jersey where he lived and Manhattan, at times consistent with him actually being able to have the bombing happened.

The Chelsea bomb exploded at 8:30. He came into town at 6:00 p.m. And the cell phones used in the devices, the complaint says, were bought at the same store in New Jersey, and they were also shipped to where Rahami worked.

SHAPIRO: And apparently there was also a diary which investigators say may get to why he might have done this.

TEMPLE-RASTON: Yes. Apparently, according to the complaint, he wrote about terrorist leaders who said to attack at home if you couldn't travel abroad. And he mentioned the Fort Hood shooting and someone he called Brother Osama bin Laden. So investigators clearly believe this is an act of violent jihad if these writings are indeed his.

SHAPIRO: NPR's Dina Temple-Raston - thank you, Dina.

TEMPLE-RASTON: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.