Was Suspect Ahmad Rahami Working Alone? The Case Is Far From Closed
In the past 72 hours, New York and New Jersey have been subject to two explosions and two failed detonations of homemade improvised explosive devices. Authorities have identified 28-year-old Ahmad Rahami as the prime suspect in at least one set of explosions that occurred on Saturday night. Rahami, a naturalized citizen of Afghan origin, was apprehended by police on Monday afternoon in Linden, New Jersey. Between these attacks in New York and New Jersey, as well as mall stabbing in Minnesota — for which ISIS claimed responsibility — it's worth asking the question: Was Ahmad Rahami working alone? Romper could not reach Rahami for comment.
When Rahami was arrested Monday afternoon, he was found alone, discovered sleeping outside of a bar just 10 minutes away from a police station. But that didn't stop authorities from speculating earlier on Monday that the incidents in New York, New Jersey, and Minnesota could have been the work of an active terror cell in the United States. However, at a news briefing Monday afternoon, the assistant director of the New York division of the FBI, William Sweeney, Jr. told reporters there was "no indication that there is a [terror] cell operating in the area." At the same press conference, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed that authorities were not investigating any other individuals at this time.
It's not entirely out of the realm of possibility that Rahami could have been working with one or more accomplices, especially after such a rapid-fire succession of incidents that seem like coordinated attacks. The first incident occurred Saturday at around 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time when a backpack containing three homemade pipe bombs exploded near a race course in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. At 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, New York, a homemade pressure cooker bomb detonated inside of a dumpster, injuring 29 people — none critically.
Then, at approximately 9 p.m. Eastern Time, a man — later identified as 22-year-old Dahir A. Adan — entered a St. Cloud, Minnesota, shopping mall and stabbed nine people before being shot by an off-duty police officer. Authorities now believe that Adan acted as a "lone wolf" in the Minnesota mall stabbings. Shortly after the incident in Minnesota, authorities back in New York were alerted to a second pressure cooker device discovered just blocks from the first blast.
On Monday morning, a fourth homemade explosive device — a backpack containing pipe bombs — was found at a train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey, shutting down train service as a bomb squad robot detonated the device. No one was injured in the controlled explosion.
Police have said they believe Rahami is responsible for the device discovered in Elizabeth. It's possible Rahami could have dropped off explosive devices at each of the four sites where homemade bombs were found: Elizabeth, Seaside Heights, and Manhattan are easily within driving distance of each other or accessible via public transportation. More answers should come out after authorities interrogate Rahami when he comes out of surgery from gunshot wounds sustained during his arrest.