Chelsea Bombing Suspect Faces Federal Charges

Photo by Daniel Kwak.
An image of Ahmad Khan Rahami, the suspect law enforcement and the FBI apprehended in connection to Saturday night’s explosion. Photo via NYPD.
A photo of Ahmad Khan Rahami released by the NYPD, before he was apprehended in connection to the Sept. 17 Chelsea bombing.

BY SEAN EGAN | On Wed., Nov. 16, Ahmad Khan Rahami, the suspect in the September Chelsea bombing and other related attacks, was indicted on federal terrorism charges. Filed by US Attorney Preet Bharara, the charges include using a weapon of mass destruction, bombing a place of public use, and destroying property by means of fire or explosive. If convicted, Rahami could face a life sentence in prison.

Rahami’s alleged attack happened around 8:30 p.m. on Sat., Sept. 17, when an explosive device, placed in a dumpster near the King David Gallery (131 W. 23rd St., btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.) and Selis Manor (135 W. 23rd St.; a housing center for the blind and visually impaired) detonated. Surrounding buildings were damaged and dozens were left injured — though none seriously. Another bomb (constructed of a pressure cooker, wires, and a cellphone) was found on W. 27th St., though this device did not detonate.

Rahami is also the suspect in two other non-fatal, bomb-related incidents from that weekend in New Jersey: the bombing of a 5K run for the Marines in Seaside Park, NJ, and the discovery of undetonated pipe bombs at an NJ Transit station.

“Allegedly driven by a commitment to violent jihad, Rahami planted bombs in the heart of Manhattan and in New Jersey,” wrote Bharara of Rahami, an American citizen of Afghan descent, who grew up in New Jersey and reportedly became radicalized in recent years. “One of the bombs exploded on a Saturday evening in Chelsea, injuring over 30 people and shattering windows hundreds of yards away. For his alleged acts of terror, Rahami will now face justice in a federal courthouse just blocks south of where he allegedly planted his bombs,” Bharara continued in her Nov. 10 statement.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo tour W. 23rd St. on Sun., Sept. 18. Photo by Michael Appleton, Mayoral Photography Office.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo tour W. 23rd St. on Sun., Sept. 18. Photo by Michael Appleton, Mayoral Photography Office.

Aside from these charges, Rahami was also charged on seven counts in New Jersey, including attempted murder, stemming from the dramatic chase/shootout he engaged in with the law enforcement officers who apprehended him in Linden, NJ the Monday after his alleged attacks. Rahami also sustained injuries during the shootout, and, according to his lawyers, continues to have medical issues, which have complicated legal proceedings.

Rahami’s arraignment for his federal charges is set for the afternoon of Thurs., Nov. 17 at Manhattan Federal Court.