Person Of Interest In N.Y.-Area Bombs Tied To Family Restaurant In N.J.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
We are learning more about a man police are searching for in and around New York City this morning. He is wanted in connection with a number of explosive devices found over the weekend. One that detonated in Manhattan injured 29 people. Let's turn to my colleague, NPR's Hansi Lo Wang, who is in New York. Hansi, good morning.
HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: Good morning, David.
GREENE: So tell us about the search that's going on right now.
WANG: Well, the police are looking for a man named Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28 years old, a U.S. citizen born in Afghanistan. And this is a search that - a lot of New Yorkers woke up this morning with cellphone alerts sent to their cellphones, and there also is a wanted poster out. They're looking for a man that has brown hair, brown eyes, brown facial hair and is considered armed and dangerous.
GREENE: Wow, frightening way to wake up with that on your cellphone.
WANG: It was.
GREENE: So this search is ongoing. I mean, the authorities have said that he might still be dangerous. And, I mean, things have to be tense there.
WANG: Things are very tense. There is increased police presence in some of the major transit hubs. There also was an apartment raid this morning in Elizabeth, N.J., where there was an explosive device found near a train station, and one did go off when police tried to disarm it. And so we are still waiting for more details - we're expecting around noon Eastern today from the NYPD and other officials.
GREENE: OK, and our colleague, NPR's Dina Temple-Raston, NPR's counterterrorism correspondent, has said this series of incidents, they do appear to be related - one in Seaside Park, N.J., Saturday, the ones you're talking about in Manhattan in Chelsea also on Saturday and then the one you mentioned in Elizabeth, N.J., this device that was found in a backpack and then police were able to detonate it without anyone being harmed.
I want to turn now to another colleague. It's NPR investigative correspondent Joe Shapiro. He's in the studio with me. And, Joe, you've been looking at some court documents that might actually tell us something about the family of Rahami, this guy that the police are searching for.
JOSEPH SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Yes, David. My colleagues in the investigative unit, we found a lawsuit that was filed in 2011 in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey by the Rahami family, by Mohammad Rahami who - the owner of the First American Fried Chicken. We know that his - he is the father of Ahmad Rahami. And also on this lawsuit, there is a Mohammad K. Rahami, Jr., his son. They say they ran this fried chicken restaurant in Elizabeth for many years, from 2002 to 2008, without any problem. And then in - starting on July 4, 2008, they got a summons that complained that they were keeping the restaurant open past 10:00 p.m.
Now, it was later dismissed. It turns out that it - the lawsuit says it's legal to do that, but they kept getting citations. And they say that a neighbor, a man named James Dean McDermott, had come into the restaurant and said that Muslims have no business having a restaurant. Specifically, they quote him as saying Muslims are trouble. Muslims should not have businesses here. He asked them where they were from. They said Afghanistan. He said Muslims don't belong here.
GREENE: So they were being harassed, this family alleges.
SHAPIRO: So they - they're - the lawsuit says they were being repeatedly harassed and that the - that this - some - that complaints kept being filed that they were keeping the restaurant open past 10, that they kept having to deal with it, that these things got complained. But at one point, Mohammad Rahami, the father and the son then were charged in a dispute with police with interfering with the police. They were charged with disorderly conduct during one of these confrontations with police...
SHAPIRO: ...And that, in the end, the son eventually did give - pled to obstruction of police.
GREENE: And so this is a lawsuit that was filed against the authorities in Elizabeth, N.J.
SHAPIRO: Against the city, against police...
GREENE: Oh, wow.
SHAPIRO: ...And against this neighbor, James Dean McDermott.
GREENE: OK, we just have a few seconds left, but just to review here that this lawsuit seems to suggest that the family of the man police are searching for, they have had some complaints about - they've - how they've been treated in Elizabeth, N.J., which - we have so much more to learn, but may be a possible motive here as we follow the story.
SHAPIRO: That's right. And we also saw, by the way, that after this happened, they had financial problems.
GREENE: OK, we'll be following the story, obviously. That is my colleague, NPR investigative correspondent Joe Shapiro, also talking to NPR's Hansi Lo Wang in New York. Thank you both.
WANG: You're welcome.
SHAPIRO: Thank you.
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