NEW YORK CITY: An Afghan-born American was reportedly charged on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) with attempted murder after being shot and captured in connection with bomb attacks in New York and New Jersey, thrusting security fears into the heart of the US election.
Saturday’s (Sunday in Manila) bombings, which left 29 people wounded in Manhattan and forced the cancellation of a US Marine Corps race in New Jersey, came on the same day that a Somali-American with possible links to the Islamic State extremist group went on a stabbing rampage in Minnesota, wounding nine people.
President Barack Obama, in New York on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) to attend the United Nations General Assembly with other world leaders, called on Americans “not to succumb to fear.”
He stressed that investigators at this point saw no connection between the incidents on the East Coast and the Minnesota stabbings, where police said the assailant made “some references to Allah” in carrying out the attack.
Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, was wounded in a shootout with police in Linden, New Jersey, just four hours after the FBI released a mugshot of him and texted alert messages to millions of people, describing him as “armed and dangerous.”
ABC News footage showed the bearded Rahami being stretchered into an ambulance, wearing a bloodied bandage on his right arm and moving his head moments after being taken into custody.
Police confirmed his arrest and said two officers had been wounded.
He was later charged with five counts of attempting to murder law enforcement officers, unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, US television networks said.
Rahami was injured in the leg and underwent surgery at hospital, one official said. Born in Afghanistan, he worked at his family’s fried chicken restaurant in Elizabeth, New Jersey and is a US citizen.
Investigators are focusing on whether he had co-conspirators and his possible motive in allegedly bombing New York’s Chelsea neighborhood and detonating a pipe bomb along the route of a US Marine Corps race on the Jersey shore.
Another pressure cooker device was found and defused close to the scene of the Manhattan explosion, and five pipe bombs were discovered late on Sunday (Monday in Manila) in a trash can at the train station in Elizabeth. These were also defused.
Fifteen years after the September 11, 2001 attacks, officials say lone-wolf attacks perpetrated by individuals who may be inspired by the Islamic State or Al-Qaeda propaganda are the greatest terror threat to the homeland.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that a possible foreign terror connection would now be an “important line of inquiry.”
“Who was Rahami acting with, if anyone? And if he had co-conspirators, what were their alliances?” he told CNN.
Bill Sweeney, a senior FBI official, said he was “ruling nothing out” when asked whether the same suspect was behind the bombs planted in Elizabeth.
“I have no indication there is a cell operating in the area,” Sweeney told a news conference in New York.
The New York mayor said authorities were not currently looking for any other suspects in connection with what he called “an act of terror” in Chelsea.
Rahami, who has brown hair, brown eyes and a beard, was apparently seen in surveillance footage taken in Chelsea before the bomb went off.