In what has become a continuing trend in recent years, another act of terror carried out by an Islamic extremist has rocked the West. While the most recent attack was not as successful as those before it, it's still a clear reminder of the new reality in the war on terror.
Shortly after 8:30 p.m. on Saturday night in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea, an explosion went off injuring 29 people. By the next morning, only one person injured by the blast was still in the hospital, and the manhunt was on for the person behind the attacks. In less than 24 hours, the authorities released information about their prime suspect, 28-year-old #Ahmad Khan Rahami, a naturalized American citizen who was born in Afghanistan.
Who Is Ahmad Khan Rahami? https://t.co/1b84qX9NTY— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 20, 2016
Just hours after releasing his photo, a local bartender recognized Rahami who was reportedly sleeping in nearby doorway, before notifying the police. Law enforcement quickly rushed to the scene where they engaged in a shootout with the suspect, which ended after Rahami was struck in the leg by a bullet and taken into custody.
Rahami was currently living in an apartment in Elizabeth, New Jersey, located above his family-owned restaurant, "First American Fried Chicken." According to interviews with his family, Rahami had become more vocal in his opposition to American culture after making several trips to Afghanistan in recent years. Rahami was questioned by law enforcement upon his return from each trip, which is the normal procedure, but his answers and behavior never raised questions for the authorities to step in.
In addition to traveling to Afghanistan, Rahami also spent time in Quetta, Pakistan, which is known as a hotbed for the Taliban. During his trip Quetta in 2011, Rahami was married to a local woman. Rahami would made several trips back to Pakistan in the years that would follow, telling immigration officials that the reason for his trip was to renew his visa and visit family members. Due to Quetta being a stronghold for terrorist activity, Rahami was questioned in further detail during each return visit.
Family and friends speak out
Rahami's father suspected that his son had become radicalized in 2014, prompting him to inform the authorities of the information. In addition to his family members, friends of Rahami also noticed a change. Long-time friend Flee Jones said Rahami "got more religious" following his trips to the Middle East, not just a change in attitude, but also in how he would dress. When Rahami was finally taken down during the shootout, he was carrying Islamic #Terrorism propaganda, including writings from the now deceased al-Qaeda terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki, as well as others.
As of press time, Rahami is believed to have acted alone and not with groups like #ISIS, though the FBI and other law enforcement outlets are still questioning other individuals, including family members of the suspect. Rahami is currently in custody and has been charged with five counts of attempted murder due to the shootout with police.