On Sept. 17, 2016, bombs detonated on the streets of the Chelsea neighborhood in New York and in New Jersey. The mission: to kill as many Americans as possible. On Feb. 13, the bomber, Ahmad Khan Rahimi was sentenced to life in prison.
Rahimi, an Afghan-born U.S. citizen, was arrested on Sept. 19 by police in Linden, N.J., after attempting numerous bombings in New York targeting neighborhoods and a Marine Corps Charity 5k in New Jersey. The bomber shot numerous rounds at police striking and injuring numerous officers before he was shot, subdued and placed under arrest. Police found a hand-written journal with references to the bombings and references to Usama Bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki, and other terrorists including Nidal Hasan, who shot and killed 13 people in Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009.
“Today’s sentencing assures us that Ahmad Khan Rahimi will spend the rest of his life behind bars. Once again, the lesson learned is clear: if you plot to cause catastrophic damage against this city and our citizens, you will be held accountable. I would like to thank the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces here in New York and New Jersey, along with many other law enforcement partners, who moved with speed in this investigation and who work every day to protect Americans from acts of terror,” said FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney in a statement.
Rahimi was sentenced following a two-week trial for the execution and attempted execution of bombings in New York City. “Ahmed Kahn Rahimi placed two ticking bombs in a crowded Manhattan neighborhood on a warm Saturday night. He then walked away. It was the most cowardly of all crimes. His clear intention was to take as many lives as possible. Rahimi had other bombs and likely other plans,” said NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill.
Rahimi transported two improvised explosive devices from New Jersey to New York and placed one device around 135 West 23rd Street in Chelsea and the other around 131 West 27th Street in Chelsea. The first bomb detonated at 8:30 pm, injuring 30 people with a high explosive main charge laced with thousands of ball bearings. Police believe a pressure cooker was placed by a dumpster. The blast shattered windows and propelled the 100-pound dumpster more that 120 feet.
Shortly after the initial blast, the 27th Street bomb was identified by a civilian who called 911, and it was rendered safe prior to detonation. This bomb was also a pressure cooker connected with wires to a cellular telephone and packed with an explosive main charge, ball bearings and steel nuts.
Earlier that day, Rahimi detonated a device placed along the route for the Seaside Semper Five Marine Corps Charity 5k. Due to a delay to the race start, the bomb detonated with no runners near the location. On Sept. 18, police found six additional explosive devices Rahimi planted in a backpack located at the New Jersey Transit station in Elizabeth. One device detonated as a law enforcement robot was defusing it.
The FBI reportedly looked into Rahimi in 2014 but found no evidence to suggest he was engaged in terrorist activities. The FBI looked at Rahimi after he stabbed his brother and hit his mother.
Rahimi. aka Ahmad Rahami, was sentenced to life in prison plus $562,803 in restitution.