At a Glance | October 23

Convicted Bomber from New Jersey Faces Life in Prison

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The Elizabeth man convicted for a Manhattan bombing that injured 30 faces life in prison when sentenced January 18. A federal jury in New York on October 16 found Ahmad Khan Rahimi (right) guilty on eight charges, including the use and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, which carries a mandatory life term. Rahimi, 29, also could face other trials in connection with a bomb that went off in Seaside Park hours before the New York blast, a backpack containing improvised explosive devices found the next day by the Elizabeth train station, and a shootout he had with Linden police before his capture. Rahimi, who worked in his family’s chicken restaurant, was not charged with terrorism, but federal prosecutors said his interest in jihad, terrorist attacks and terrorist organizations influenced his plans. The verdict followed about four hours of deliberation after a two-week trial that featured routine video from security cameras as well as DNA and fingerprints. Prosecutors asserted the footage showed Rahimi dragging two small suitcases down a New York street before a bomb sent a 100-pound trash bin into the air on September 17, 2016. The bombings began that morning along the route of a Marine Corps-related race in Seaside Park. No one was injured there; the bomb went off before runners started. Rahimi was captured two days later.


Massachusetts Man Convicted in ISIS-Inspired Plot Against Blogger

A federal jury on October 18 convicted a Massachusetts man of plotting to behead conservative blogger Pamela Geller and kill other Americans on behalf of the Islamic State. Wright, 28, faces a life term after being fund guilty of all charges, including conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. Prosecutors said Wright led the conspiracy and recruited his uncle and others to kill Geller because they were upset she organized Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas in 2015. During the contest, two other men opened fire outside and wounded a security guard before they were killed in a shootout with law enforcement assigned to guard the event. Wright’s uncle, Ussamah Rahim, was shot and killed by authorities after he lunged at them with a knife when they approached him in Boston. The third man accused in the plot, Nicholas Rovinski, pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy and faces 15 to 22 years in prison. Rovinski, of Warwick, Rhode Island, testified against Wright, telling jurors that Wright said Geller “deserved to be beheaded” because she insulted Mohammad.


Man Who Tried to Join al-Qa’ida Branch Thanks Government for Stopping Him

Moments before he was sentenced to the maximum of 15 years in prison, an Illinois man said he was glad US authorities kept him from joining an al-Qa’ida group. “I say personally to you, thank you,” Abdella Ahmad Tounisi said in a Chicago courtroom on October 19. “Thank you for saving my life.” Tounisi, now 23, was arrested 4½ years ago at O’Hare International Airport trying to board a flight to the Middle East. Tounisi pleaded guilty in August 2015 of attempting to provide material support to the Nusrah Front. Prosecutors had sought the maximum term because Tounisi still pursued plans to travel to Syria despite nearly being charged in a plot to detonate a car bomb outside a Chicago nightclub in 2012.


For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Analysis Bureau at analysis@njohsp.gov or 609-584-4000.