Ahmad Rahami: New York bomber's journal vowed 'death to your oppression' and outlined plans for New Jersey attack

Investigators say suspected attacker was inspired by al-Qaeda recruiter

Lizzie Dearden@lizziedearden
Wednesday 21 September 2016 08:26
Ahmad Khan Rahami is taken into custody after a shootout with police on Monday
Ahmad Khan Rahami is taken into custody after a shootout with police on Monday

The man suspected of attempting devastating terror attacks on New York and New Jersey had left a hand-written journal praising terrorists and speaking of his desire for “martyrdom” in the name of jihad, prosecutors say.

The blood-soaked document was recovered from the scene of a shootout between Ahmad Khan Rahami and police in Linden, New Jersey, where he was injured and taken into custody.

Federal charges filed on Tuesday and seen by The Independent detail musings in the journal, which ended with the message: “Inshallah [God willing] the sounds of the bombs will be heard in your streets. Gunshots to your police. Death to your oppression.”

New York bombing suspect Rahami loaded into ambulance after taken into custody

It contained mentions of pipe bombs and pressure cooker bombs – the devices that failed to kill any victims in New York and New Jersey on Saturday – as well as the sentence “in the streets they plan to run a mile”.

Rahami is accused of using a mobile phone to detonate a pipe bomb planted along the route of a charity run by US Marines in Seaside Park.

The event was due to begin around 35 minutes before the attack but was delayed and then cancelled after the blasts, where only one of three connected pipe bombs exploded after being detonated using a mobile phone.

Around 11 hours later, a pressure cooker bomb in New York’s 23rd Street exploded at around 8.30pm local time, injuring 31 people including a British citizen and causing millions of pounds of damage in a 650ft radius.

Investigators were led to another device a few blocks north, on 27th Street, and later found explosives accidentally set off by a bomb disposal robot at Elizabeth railway station in New Jersey.

Prosecutors said Rahami bought bomb ingredients on eBay and recorded a video of himself gleefully igniting a blast in a back garden.

His journal contained praise for Nidal Hasan, who massacred 13 people at Fort Hood in Texas, “brother Osama bin Laden” and Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-Yemeni al-Qaeda recruiter killed in a US drone strike in 2011.

The ramblings accused the US government of “slaughter against the mujahideen be it Afghanistan, Iraq, Sham [Syria], Palestine” and saw Rahami “beg for shahadat [martryrdom]”.

Echoing the language of online recruiters, he wrote that as he was unable to travel to wage jihad in Syria he would follow al-Awlaki’s instructions to “attack the kuffar [infidels] in their backyard”.

“The FBI & Homeland Security [unitelligible] looking for me,” the journal continued. “I pray to the beautiful wise Allah. Not to take jihad away from [me].”

Court documents said Rahami also showed extremist tendencies on social media, listing two jihadist nasheeds [religious songs] related to jihad under his “favorites” list on YouTube.

He was also filmed on a video shot by a family member exploding a partially buried device on 15 September, just two days before the Chelsea bombings.

“The video depicts the lighting of the fuse, a loud noise and flames, followed by billowing smoke and laughter,” the document says. “Rahami then enters the frame and is seen picking up the cylindrical container.”

Saturday’s blasts came two years after the FBI opened an investigation into the Afghan-born suspect after a domestic dispute.

Ahmad Rahami

“The FBI conducted internal database reviews, interagency checks and multiple interviews, none of which revealed ties to terrorism,” a spokesperson said.

Rahami's father, Mohammad, told reporters he warned the FBI at the time because his son “was doing real bad,” having stabbed his brother and hit his mother. Rahami was not prosecuted in the stabbing after a grand jury declined to indict him.

“They checked, almost two months, and they say, 'He's ok, he's clear, he's not terrorist.' Now they say he's a terrorist,” Mohammad told reporters outside the family's chicken restaurant in Elizabeth.

Asked whether he thought his son was a terrorist, he said: “No. And the FBI, they know that.”

Rahami remains hospitalised with gunshot wounds from a shootout with police that led to his capture outside a bar in Linden, New Jersey.

He has been charged with terrorism, the use of a weapon of mass destruction, bombing, attempted murder of police officers, destruction of property and use of a destructive device.

The White House said Barack Obama was confident the FBI would review Rahami's interactions with law enforcement “to determine if there's something different that could have been done or should have been done to prevent the violence.”

Meanwhile, investigators are looking into Rahami's overseas travel, including a visit to Pakistan, and possible funding or training from extremist organisations.