US law enforcement agencies have arrested Ahmad Khan Rahami as the “main guy” behind this weekend’s serial bombings in New York and New Jersey that luckily claimed no lives.
The 28-year-old suspect, who hails from Afghanistan, was held after a dramatic shootout on Monday, ending a 50-hour manhunt.
Since then, investigators have been trying to understand how Rahami was radicalised. Reports in the US media have so far suggested that his frequent visits to Pakistan since 2014 may have played a role.
However, he doesn’t appear to have links to terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda or Islamic State. A Los Angeles Times report says that Rahami operated alone, and made and planted the two bombs all by himself.
How police took down the New York bombing suspect https://t.co/tdFz9BwUt8— The Independent (@Independent) September 19, 2016
What we know about Rahami’s life as a US citizen so far
- Rahami was a small child when he moved with his parents from warn-torn Afghanistan to the US in 1995. The Rahami family comprised of his father, who was separated from his wife, and his eight children
- The family was running a popular restaurant called First American Fried Chicken in a New York suburb since 2002
Around 4 years ago, Ahmad Rahami disappeared for a while. When he returned, some noticed a certain transformation. https://t.co/knza2Bxbfp— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 20, 2016
- Rahami went to public high school and later studied criminal justice at Middlesex Community College in 2010-2012, but did not graduate
- Like any other guy his age, Rahami was into fast cars and rap music
- The neighbours told the media that the family was devout and would take breaks to pray at different times of the day
Here is what the US media has revealed so far about Rahami’s Pakistan connection
- A CNN report says Rahami visited Afghanistan, and Pakistan’s Quetta region (considered a stronghold of the Taliban) in 2011 for several weeks. There, he married a Pakistani woman, in July 2011
- CNN reports that Rahami visited Pakistan again (though he told everyone around he was going to Afghanistan) in April 2013 and remained there until March 2014. He may have made other three to four trips to Pakistan without it being detected by the US government.
- While Rahami’s motive is not known yet, The Daily Beast reports that one of his brothers, Mohammad K Rahami, posted a jihadi message on Facebook in 2013 – “I bring the men who desire death as ardently as you desire life.” (The quote is from a companion of the Prophet Muhammad.)
- A Los Angeles Times report quotes Rahami’s friends as saying that after his travels abroad, he “seemed to become more pious”. “At one point he left to go to Afghanistan, and two years ago he came back, popped up out of nowhere and he was real religious,” one of Rahami’s friends told the newspaper
- A New York Times report said, “When he returned, some patrons noticed a certain transformation. He grew a beard and exchanged his typical wardrobe of T-shirts and sweatpants for traditional Muslim garb. He began to pray in the back of the store.”
A CNN report said that Rahami’s wife left the United States just a few days before the blasts
New York bomber suspect’s wife left the US ‘days before’ attack https://t.co/7LB6ACdLCg— The Independent (@Independent) September 20, 2016