A 28-year-old man has been named by the New York Police Department (NYPD) as a suspect in the explosion that rocked the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan on Saturday night (Sept. 17), injuring 29.
The police department sent out an alert this morning to notify citizens that Ahmad Khan Rahami, an American of Afghan origin, is wanted by the FBI.
The man, whose last known address is in Elizabeth, New Jersey, is described by the FBI as “about 5′ 6” tall and weighs approximately 200 pounds. Rahami, a naturalized citizen, has brown hair, brown eyes, and brown facial hair.” The police department asked for tips at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324), and warned that the man may be armed and dangerous.
The New York Times reports that police officers and FBI agents with dogs were searching a residential area in south Elizabeth. Rahami reportedly lives in the area, on Elmora Avenue, above the family’s restaurant, First American Fried Chicken, where Rahami worked with some of his brothers. The town’s mayor, J. Christian Bollwage, said the restaurant has been in operation for several years and had caused some complaints from neighbors because it would stay open through the night. The city eventually forced it to close at 10pm.
Interviewed by the Times, a restaurant patron said Rahami liked fast cars and appeared to be in the process of taking over the operation of the restaurant from his father. The customer described Rahami as “a very friendly guy” who wore Western clothes and gave his regular customers free food. Of the allegation that he was involved with bombs, the customer said, “he’s a guy you would never expect.”
A few blocks away from the blast site and shortly after the explosion on Saturday evening, investigators found another device wired into a pressure cooker on 27th Street.
On Sunday night (Sept. 18) two men found a backpack containing wires and a pipe, which authorities determined were five explosives, on a municipal garbage can in Elizabeth. One of the devices exploded while being disarmed by a police robot.
On Sunday night, five people were stopped in a car in New Jersey as they were about to cross the Verrazano-Narrows bridge, on their way to the airport. The men, believed to be from the same family, were questioned by the FBI in Manhattan in connection to the bombing, though FBI said “no one has been charged with any crime.”
New York governor Andrew Cuomo said in an interview with CBS This Morning about the Chelsea bomb that “it may very well turn out that there was a foreign connection to this incident.”
Some news sources are citing unnamed law enforcement officials saying they are investigating whether a terror cell operating out of New Jersey coordinated the attacks. In an interview on CNN, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio did not confirm those reports. “It’s too early to say if there’s something bigger,” he said. “We know we want to get this individual in.”
More information has also emerged about the attack at a mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota, where a man stabbed nine people before being shot dead by an off-duty police officer.
The FBI has labeled the episode “a potential act of terror,” and some local reports have identified the suspect as of Somali descent. CNN reports that the attack has been claimed by the Islamic State, citing a news agency linked to the terror group. Authorities confirmed that the man asked “asked at least one person if they were Muslim before he assaulted them,” though they have have not confirmed any link to international terrorism.