Ahmad Rahami Charged for Bombings in NY, NJ

The Afghan American charged with conducting and attempting to conduct bombings in New York City and various locations in New Jersey. Charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.
FBI agents searching First American Fried Chicken and the apartment above it in Elizabeth, NJ, where Ahmad Rahami lived with his family.

FBI agents searching First American Fried Chicken and the apartment above it in Elizabeth, NJ, where Ahmad Rahami lived with his family.

Hours after his dramatic arrest following a shoot out in Linden, NJ, Ahmad Khan Rahami, the man believed to be responsible for September 17 bomb explosions in Seaside Park, NJ, and West 23rd Street in Chelsea, Manhattan, has been charged in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, for conducting and attempting to conduct bombings in New York City and various locations in New Jersey on September 17, 2016, and September 18, 2016.

According to an announcement by the US Attorney’s Office Southern District of New York, Rahami, a naturalized US citizen of Afghanistan descent, will first be transported by the US Marshals Service, pursuant to a writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum, to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York to face the charges filed in the Southern District of New York. More than 30 people were injured as a result of the detonation of a bomb in the Chelsea area of New York City.

“Rahami, 28, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, is charged in a Complaint filed in the Southern District of New York with one count of using and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2332a, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment; one count of bombing and attempting to bomb a place of public use, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2332f, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment; one count of destroying and attempting to destroy property by means of fire or explosive, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 844(d), which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and use of a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence, namely, the use and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), which carries a mandatory minimum consecutive sentence of 30 years in prison, all in connection with Rahami’s alleged detonation of an explosive device and efforts to detonate explosives in New York City,” reads the statement.

Rahami is also charged in a Complaint filed in the District of New Jersey with two counts of using and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2332a, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment on each count; one count of bombing and attempting to bomb a place of public use and public transportation system, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2332f, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment; one count of attempting to destroy property by means of fire or explosive, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 844(i), which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and two counts of using a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence, namely, the use and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), each count of which carries a mandatory minimum consecutive sentence of 30 years in prison and, if convicted of both counts, a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment, all in connection with Rahami’s alleged efforts to detonate explosives in Seaside Park, New Jersey, and Elizabeth, New Jersey.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for the Southern District of New York andU.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman for the District of New Jersey praised the outstanding efforts of the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which principally consists of agents from the FBI and detectives from the NYPD, and the FBI’s New Jersey Joint Terrorism Task Force.  Mr. Bharara and Mr. Fishman also thanked the Counterterrorism Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division for its assistance.

The prosecution in the Southern District of New York is being handled by that Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicholas J. Lewin, Emil J. Bove III, Andrew J. DeFilippis, and Shawn G. Crowley are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney Brian Morgan of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

The prosecution in the District of New Jersey is being handled by that Office’s National Security Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dennis C. Carletta, Francisco J. Navarro, Margaret Ann Mahoney, and James M. Donnelly are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney Brian Morgan of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

The charges contained in the complaints are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty, the statement concluded.

The incident has left, like their compatriots, American Muslim community in shock and renewed stress during a political season that has seen promises by Republican candidate Donald Trump to ban entry of Muslims into the US. Rahami’s arrest was welcomed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization. In a statement, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said:

“We welcome the arrest of the suspect in this case and hope this ends the series of potentially-deadly incidents. American Muslims, like all Americans reject extremism and violence, and seek a safe and secure nation. Our nation is most secure when we remain united and reject the fear-mongering and guilt by association often utilized following such attacks. We stand together with our fellow Americans in New York, New Jersey and Minnesota as we deal with the troubling phenomenon of domestic terrorism.”

CAIR-NJ Executive Director Jim Sues said: “We thank the law enforcement agencies involved in the apprehension of this suspect for their swift and professional actions.”

“We urge all New Yorkers and Americans across the nation to stand in solidarity against intolerance aimed at dividing communities,” said CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher.

Nasher added that CAIR has noted a spike in anti-Muslim discrimination and hate crimes in recent months, which the civil rights group attributes at least in part to Islamophobic rhetoric used by various public figures, like Donald Trump, who has renewed his call for racial and religious profiling of Americans.

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