NY, NJ bombings: Same man suspected; terror cell likely involved, officials say
Ahmad Khan Rahami is now also wanted for questioning in connection with the explosion Saturday in Seaside Park, New Jersey, the FBI said Monday.
New York police announced earlier they are looking for Rahami for questioning in connection with the Saturday bombing in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, which injured 29 people.
Bombings in New York and New Jersey over the weekend — as well as the discovery of several unexploded devices — have led authorities to believe there may be a terror cell at work in those two states, law enforcement officials told CNN Monday.
And a manhunt is under way for 28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami after New York police identified him as wanted in connection with the bombing Saturday night in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, which wounded 29 people.
— NJSP – State Police (@NJSP) September 19, 2016
Earlier Saturday, a garbage can exploded near the starting line of a Marine Corps charity run in Seaside Park, New Jersey.
And on Sunday night, a backpack with multiple bombs inside was found in Elizabeth, New Jersey. As authorities tried to investigate, one of those bombs exploded.
The series of attacks come as New York hosts world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly this week.
Here are the latest developments:
— Officials want to question Ahmad Khan Rahami because they believe he is the man seen in surveillance videos rolling a duffel bag near the scene of the bombing in Chelsea, according to multiple officials.
— The FBI described Rahami as a naturalized U.S. citizen of Afghan descent with a last known address in Elizabeth, New Jersey — the same city where an explosives-laden backback was found Sunday night.
Rahami is about 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighs about 200 pounds. Rahami has brown hair, brown eyes and brown facial hair.
— New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday the bombs found over the weekend have similarities, suggesting “there might have been a common linkage.” He said the investigation is ongoing, and he “wouldn’t be surprised if it zeroes in on a particular individual, today even,” and he “wouldn’t be surprised if we found a foreign connection to the act.”
— A federal law enforcement official said BBs and ball bearings were among the pieces of metal that appeared to be packed into two pressure cooker bombs in New York. One of those devices exploded on 23rd Street, but the fact that it was partly under a metal trash container may have diminished the force of the blast.
— Surveillance videos showed the same man near the site of the explosion in Chelsea and where a pressure-cooker device was found four blocks away, several local and federal law enforcement sources told CNN.
— On Sunday night, the FBI and New York police stopped a vehicle of interest in the investigation, according to a statement from the FBI. No one has been charged with any crime and the investigation is ongoing, the statement said.
The latest bomb discovery
The backpack in Elizabeth, New Jersey, was found around 9:30 p.m. Sunday in a wastebasket outside a neighborhood pub — about 500 feet from a train trestle, officials said.
There was a suspicious package with multiple improvised explosive devices this evening at the Elizabeth Train Station in NJ. #Elizabeth
— FBI Newark (@FBINewark) September 19, 2016
It contained up to five devices, Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage said. The two men who found the backpack thought it might contain something valuable, but they alerted police when they saw wires and a pipe on the devices, the mayor said.
Bomb technicians sent a robot to examine the devices. As the robot was doing so, one of the devices detonated.
“The robot that went in to disarm it, cut a wire and it exploded,” Bollwage said.
The remaining four devices in the backpack will be transferred in protective cases to a local site and then will be taken to the FBI laboratory at Quantico, Virginia, Bollwage said.
Police checked all garbage cans in the immediate area, but found no other suspicious items.
FBI Bomb Squad is on scene and continuing the investigation at the train station in Midtown Elizabeth. pic.twitter.com/qvmzsgisjC
— Chris Bollwage (@MayorBollwage) September 19, 2016
Police continued to search Linden and Elmora streets, close to where the backpack was found, on Monday morning. The search was connected to the ongoing terror investigation, a law enforcement source said.
Trains resumed Monday morning after the New Jersey Transit suspended service going through Elizabeth station on Sunday night. Elizabeth is about 16 miles southwest of New York City. Both New Jersey Transit and Amtrak warned of delays following the incident.
We apologize for the inconvenience and will resume service as soon as it is safe to do so.
— Amtrak Northeast (@AmtrakNEC) September 19, 2016