Naturalized Citizen From Afghanistan Sought in NYC Blast

September 19, 2016 Updated: September 19, 2016
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NEW YORK—New York police released a photo of a man wanted for questioning Monday in the bombing that rocked a Manhattan neighborhood, and the governor and mayor said the blast looks more like it could be an act of terrorism with a foreign connection.

Ahmad Khan Rahami, a 28-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen from Afghanistan with an address in Elizabeth, New Jersey, should be considered armed and dangerous, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in one of a series of TV appearances just minutes after the photo was released.

In this handout provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ahmad Khan Rahami poses for a mug shot photo. (Photo by FBI via Getty Images)
In this handout provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ahmad Khan Rahami poses for a mug shot photo. (Photo by FBI via Getty Images)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said as investigators gathered information they learned there were “certain commonalities among the bombs,” leading authorities to believe “that there was a common group behind the bombs.”

“We want to get this guy in for questioning,” de Blasio said on CNN. “We need the facts to be able to piece all this together. … I think we’re going to know a lot more in the course of the day. Things are moving very quickly.”

Early Monday, FBI agents swarmed an apartment above a fried chicken restaurant in Elizabeth that’s tied to Rahami. The activity came hours after one of five devices found at the nearby Elizabeth train station exploded while a bomb squad robot attempted to disarm it.

Saturday night’s blast in the bustling Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan injured 29 people, and another unexploded device made out of pressure cooker was found several blocks away. In the immediate aftermath of that bombing, de Blasio and Cuomo were careful to say there was no evidence of a link to international terrorism. Both said Monday that appears to be changing.

“The more we learn with each passing hour is it looks more like terrorism,” de Blasio said in a later interview on NY1 News.

Cuomo, in a separate interview on MSNBC, said: “Today’s information suggests it may be foreign related but we’ll see where it goes. … My operating premise is anytime, anywhere, seven days a week you could have an incident like this.”

On Sunday night, FBI agents in Brooklyn stopped “a vehicle of interest” in the investigation of the Manhattan explosion, according to FBI spokeswoman Kelly Langmesser.

She wouldn’t provide further details, but a government official and a law enforcement official who were briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press that five people in the car were being questioned at an FBI building in Manhattan.

The New York Police department and the fire department investigate a potential bomb threat on 27th Street in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan on Sept. 19, 2016. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)
The New York Police Department and the fire department investigate a potential bomb threat on 27th Street in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan on Sept. 19, 2016. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the ongoing investigation.

No one has been charged, and the investigation is continuing, Langmesser said.

Cuomo, touring the site of Saturday’s blast in Chelsea, said the unexploded pressure cooker device appeared “similar in design” to the bomb that exploded in Chelsea.

On Sunday, a federal law enforcement official said the Chelsea bomb contained a residue of Tannerite, an explosive often used for target practice that can be picked up in many sporting goods stores. The discovery of Tannerite may be important as authorities probe whether the two New York City devices and the pipe bomb at the Jersey shore are connected.

The New York Police Department and the fire department investigate a potential bomb threat on 27th Street in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan on Sept. 19, 2016. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)
The New York Police Department and the fire department investigate a potential bomb threat on 27th Street in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan on Sept. 19, 2016. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

Cellphones were discovered at the site of both bombings, but no Tannerite residue was identified in the New Jersey bomb remnants, in which a black powder was detected, said the official, who wasn’t authorized to comment on an ongoing investigation and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

The pipe bomb exploded Saturday in Seaside Park, New Jersey, before a charity 5K race to benefit Marines and sailors. The race was canceled and no one was injured.

On Sunday night, five devices were found in a trash can near a train station in Elizabeth. The men had reported seeing wires and a pipe coming out of the package. One of the devices exploded as a bomb squad attempted to disarm it with a robot. There were no reports of injuries.