Seaside Park/Manhattan/Elizabeth: Journal Provides Indications of Motive
Ahmad Khan Rahami, the defendant in the recent bomb-related incidents in Seaside Park (Ocean County), Manhattan, and Elizabeth (Union County), has been charged in the District of New Jersey and the Southern District of New York with federal terrorism offenses. According to the criminal complaint, at the time of his arrest, Rahami had a handwritten journal on his person, which indicates that his attacks were motivated by militant Islamic extremism. (Photo shows the journal, stained with blood and apparently pierced by a bullet.) Among other things, it included praise for Anwar al-Aulaqi, a deceased senior leader of al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula; Nidal Hasan, who shot and killed 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2009; and “Brother Osama bin Laden.” The journal included references to “pipe bombs” and a “pressure cooker bomb,” as well as a statement: “in the streets they plan to run a mile.” It closes by saying, “The sounds of the bombs will be heard in the streets. Gun shots to your police. Death To Your OPPRESSION.”
The charges against Rahami include use of weapons of mass destruction (destructive devices), 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. He had already been charged by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office with five counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, and second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, after an exchange of gunfire with police in Linden.
Seaside Park/Manhattan/Elizabeth: Igniting Incendiary Material and Purchasing Bomb Components
The criminal complaint against Rahami provides details on the preparations for the attacks. Video from the cell phone of one of his relatives on September 15—two days before the bombings in Seaside Park and Manhattan—shows Rahami igniting incendiary material in the backyard of his residence in Elizabeth. (Photo shows burn damage to the grass.) The video shows the fuse being lit and “a loud noise and flames, followed by billowing smoke and laughter.” Rahami is then seen on the video, picking up a container from the target area.
Between June and August, Rahami bought several components of explosive devices—including citric acid, printed circuit boards, electric igniters, and ball bearings—on eBay and had them shipped to a business in Perth Amboy (Middlesex County) where he worked.
The criminal complaint states that law enforcement recovered 12 of Rahami’s fingerprints from the pressure cooker bomb on 27th Street in Manhattan.
Seaside Park/Manhattan/Elizabeth: Citizens Reporting Suspicious Activity Contribute to Arrest
The rapid arrest of Rahami demonstrates the value of the general public reporting suspicious activity. Two tips from citizens on September 18 and 19 were critical in locating the suspect. First, two men in Elizabeth found a backpack with five pipe bombs on the evening of September 18 and began carrying it. They first thought there was something valuable in the backpack, but when they saw the wires, they notified police.
On the morning of September 19, when the FBI and the NYPD released a photograph of Rahami, a bar owner in Linden saw a man who looked like Rahami, sleeping in a hallway at the entrance to his bar. He notified police, and when Linden police officers responded, a gun battle took place and Rahami was wounded and taken into custody.
We encourage all partners to report suspicious activity to local law enforcement and to NJOHSP by calling 1-866-4-SAFE-NJ or 2-1-1, or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.