Bombing Suspect Charged With Attempted Murder; More Charges Expected
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
The man suspected of planting explosive devices in New York and New Jersey has now been charged with a crime, and it is likely the first of many. Ahmad Khan Rahami is charged with the attempted murder of police officers. He was taken into custody yesterday after a shootout with police on the streets of Linden, N.J. Two police officers were injured as was Rahami Let's get the latest now from NPR's Joel Rose, who's been covering this story. He joins us from Maplewood, N.J. Joel, good morning.
JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Good morning.
GREENE: So I guess the - we have these first charges now, but these charges don't even get to what this man is suspected of doing in terms of all of these devices.
ROSE: Right. That's exactly right. Prosecutors in Union County, N.J., announced some charges late Monday. Those include five counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer plus two weapons charges. And the - those charges stem from the apprehension yesterday that you mentioned in Linden, which is about 20 miles from Manhattan. Rahami was spotted sleeping in a doorway, and police say they got a tip from the public. They went to investigate, and Rahami fired at them. Two officers were injured in the firefight. Police say one of the officers was shot in the abdomen, but he was wearing a bulletproof vest, so neither injury is considered life threatening.
Rahami was also injured and taken to a local hospital. Bail was set at just over $5 million. Rahami is suspected of planting the bomb that detonated in Chelsea on Saturday night, injuring 29 people; also suspected of planting the bomb that went off at the Jersey Shore earlier in the day. And authorities believe he is also connected to the undetonated bombs that were found in Manhattan and in Elizabeth, N.J. But Rahami has not yet been charged related to any of those devices. U.S. attorney Preet Bharara said yesterday in New York that federal prosecutors are working on it. Let's listen to that.
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PREET BHARARA: We are not rushing against each other to bring charges. We have been all racing together to try to catch the perpetrator here, and that's now been done. But we're going to take a lot of care and a lot of time to make sure that if we bring charges federally in the Manhattan district court that we do it in a way that's careful and thorough.
GREENE: OK, a lot of questions about what those charges might be, who would file them. We started to learn a little bit about this man yesterday, Joel. Are we learning more now?
ROSE: Well, we know that Rahami is a naturalized U.S. citizen, that he was born in Afghanistan. He's 28 years old. He went to school in New Jersey, graduated from Edison High School. He also attended Middlesex County College in Edison, but the school says he did not graduate. Rahami lived above the family's restaurant in Elizabeth, N.J., called First American Fried Chicken and worked there as well. There is some evidence of friction with the town over how late the restaurant could stay open. In fact, the Rahami family filed a federal lawsuit against the city in 2011. They claimed they were repeatedly cited for staying open past 10 p.m. even though other restaurants in the neighborhood were not.
The Rahamis say they were targeted because of their religion. However, the mayor of Elizabeth disputes that religion was a factor. He says there were complaints about noise and loitering outside the restaurant. So far, authorities are not saying anything publicly about what Rahami's motive might have been. However, they are calling it, quote, "an act of terror," unquote.
GREENE: Act of terror but suggesting that he might have been part of some sort of terror cell or something like that.
ROSE: Well, so far police say they - they are not looking for a terror cell in New York City - or there is no sign of a terror cell - pardon me - in New York City or the region. And they're not actively looking for any accomplices.
GREENE: OK. We'll be hearing much more about this story to be sure. NPR's Joel Rose reporting in New Jersey this morning. Thanks, Joel.
ROSE: You're welcome.
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