New York bombing suspect is still too injured to face questioning, official says

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 September, 2016, 1:06pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 September, 2016, 9:21pm

Investigators still haven’t been able to question a man charged with setting off bombs in New York and New Jersey because he’s too severely injured from his shootout with police, a law enforcement official said Thursday as the man’s father said he’d warned federal authorities about the man’s interest in jihadist material.

Ahmad Khan Rahami remained hospitalised after his gunbattle with police officers Monday, and it was unclear when he might be taken to court to face federal terrorism charges in the blasts, which injured 31 people Saturday. A public defender has sought a court appearance for Rahami so he can hear the charges against him.

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Rahami, an Afghan-born US citizen, has been unconscious and intubated for much of the time since undergoing surgery, said Robert Reilly, a spokesman for the FBI’s Newark office.

The official who discussed authorities’ inability to question Rahami was not authorised to discuss an ongoing investigation by name and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Prosecutors say Rahami, 28, planned the explosions for months as he bought components for his bombs online and set off a backyard blast. They say he wrote a journal that praised Osama bin Laden and other Muslim extremists, fumed about what he saw as the US government’s killing of Muslim holy warriors and declared “death to your oppression.”

Rahami’s father said in a New York Times interview published Thursday that he had told the FBI two years ago that Rahami was drawn to al-Qaeda and Taleban videos and poetry.

“I told the FBI to keep an eye on him,” the Times quoted the father as saying in his native Pashto.

He said he told the agents he couldn’t say “100 per cent if he is a terrorist.”

The FBI has said it looked into Rahami in 2014 after learning of comments his father made after Rahami was arrested on charges of stabbing his brother. The FBI said it checked databases, consulted other agencies and conducted interviews but found nothing tying Rahami to terrorism.

At the time, Rahami’s father backed away from talk of terrorism and told investigators he simply meant Rahami was hanging out with the wrong crowd, including gang members, a law enforcement official told the AP this week.

The father, Mohammad Rahami, said the FBI never spoke to his son, who was jailed at the time on the stabbing charge. The son ultimately wasn’t prosecuted after a grand jury declined to indict him.

The FBI had no immediate comment on the father’s remarks Thursday.