Terror journal, eBay orders, YouTube videos: Federal case against Rahami
Ahmad Khan Rahami wanted to be martyr, according to a bullet-riddled journal prosecutors say was found on him.
Instead, he's now facing federal terrorism charges and is being held at Union County Jail, with a bail of $5.2 million, after being taken down by Linden police. He faces life in prison if convicted on charges of using weapons of mass destruction.
Federal prosecutors on Tuesday charged the 28-year-old Elizabeth resident, a U.S. citizen born if Afghanistan, with planting bombs in Manhattan, Seaside Park and Elizabeth over the weekend.
In the criminal complaint unsealed in federal court in Manhattan, investigators revealed a trail of evidence linking the explosives to Rahami and in quoting from the journal provided what could be a glimpse into the suspect's warped motivation.
Prosecutors in Union County, meanwhile, have charged Rahami with five counts of attempted murder on police officers involved in the gun battle before his arrest.
Nobody was injured in Seaside Park because the the race was late in starting and two attached bombs did not go off. But 31 people were injured by shrapnel Saturday night in Chelsea. Another bomb down the street also failed to go off. Nobody was injured by the bomb found Sunday night at the Midtown Elizabeth train station after the backpack was discovered by two homeless men who called police.
The journal appears to plot the terror attacks, referring to "pipe bombs" and "pressure cooker bomb ... in the streets they plan to run a mile."
It also includes what prosecutors describe as "laudatory references" to former al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Awlaki; Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 in the Fort Hood massacre; and 9/11 mastermind "Brother Osama Bin Laden."
From the journal, it appears Rahami wanted to die a martyr.
The journal's final page closes with: "Inshallah [God willing] the sounds of the bombs will be heard in the streets. Gun shots to your police. Death to your OPPRESSION."
Federal prosecutors also said they found a video on a relative's cell phone showing Rahami detonating an explosive in the backyard of a home not far from his Elizabeth residence.
The complaint ties Rahami to fingerprints and cell phones on undetonated devices he allegedly left in Seaside Park and Chelsea.
The Chelsea cell phone in turn was connected to an email with the username "Yaafghankid786," which was used for a YouTube account that favorited two videos about "jihad."
Prosecutors also found an eBay account for an "ahmad rahimi" that made purchases from June 20 to Aug. 10 that were delivered to a Perth Amboy business address.
The purchases included 5 pounds of food-grade citric acid "great for bath bombs and candy making" and materials for fireworks. Investigators say these items are often used in making explosive devices.
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The criminal complaint says the journal was largely unreadable.
These were some of the passages, which were annotated by federal prosecutors with brackets:
» "You (USA Government) continue your ... slaught[er] against the mujahidean be it Afghanistan, Iraq, Sham [Syria], Palestine ..."
» "The F.B.I. & homeland security ... looking for me ALLAH. To not take JIHAD away from. I beg ... for shahadat [martyrdom] & Inshallah [God willing] this call will be A[n]nswered."
» "Back to sham [Syria]. But ... this incident show the risk are ... of getting caught under ... I looked for guidance and ... Guidance came from Sheikh Anwar ... Said it clearly attack the Kuffar [non-believers] in their backyard."
On Tuesday, Rahami's father — who owns a fried-chicken restaurant that he claimed in a federal lawsuit was unfairly targeted by police because the family was Muslim — told reporters that he reported his son's suspicious activities to the FBI two years ago. Federal officials said they gave up the investigation after the father said he only meant that he was hanging around the wrong crowd, not that he was a terrorist.
The father called federal authorities after Rahami was charged in 2014 with stabbing his brother. The case against him was dropped after a grand jury declined to indict him on the aggravated assault and weapons charges.
Meanwhile, a woman who had a child with the man suspected of setting off bombs in New York and New Jersey has asked a court to give her full custody of their son.
The Edison woman filed the petition Tuesday in Family Court in Elizabeth.
She indicated that she was requesting full custody because the "defendant has been charged with police attempted murder and is currently under protective services after possible terrorist related activity in NYC."
She provided no other details on her relationship with Rahami, except to say she last spoke to him by phone in January.
» Using and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
» Bombing and attempting to bomb a place of public use, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
» Destroying and attempting to destroy property by means of fire or explosive, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
» Use and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, which carries a mandatory minimum consecutive sentence of 30 years in prison.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.