Symon Ma, Staff Writer
Around 9:30am on Saturday, September 17th, a makeshift pipe-bomb went off in a trash receptacle in Seaside Park, NJ. Fortunately, the Seaside Semper Five, a charity 5K for United States Marines and their families, had been delayed due to a large turnout. Thus, when the bomb exploded near the course, no people were nearby to be injured.
Many hours later, at around 8:30pm, another homemade explosive detonated near the crowded block in front of 131 West 23rd Street in Chelsea, NY, injuring what was first counted as 29, but later found to be 31 civilians. Again, mass casualties were luckily avoided since the dumpster which covered the explosive absorbed the majority of the bomb’s shrapnel.
Even later around 10:00pm, a third, armed pressure-cooker bomb ―similar to the devices used in the devastating Boston Marathon bombing― was found in a trash bag on the side of West 27th Street, again in the Chelsea district of Manhattan.
What linked these threats together were the flip-phones found at the sites of both the first and third incidences. The NYPD then traced the phone, along with a stray fingerprint left on the later-diffused pressure cooker, eventually leading to a single suspect: 28 year-old Ahmad Rahami.
Ahmad Rahami: A naturalized U.S. citizen born in Afghanistan, a husband and father, a worker at his family’s store, First American Fried Chicken, and lately, an Islamic extremist. After moving to Elizabeth, NJ in 1995, Rahami grew up in and adopted American culture. Former classmates of his claim that he was friendly and outgoing in high school, and that he planned on pursuing a career in law enforcement. However, Rahami’s American lifestyle clashed with the values of his conservative Afghan father, Mohammad Rahami. The last straw was drawn when Rahami’s high school girlfriend became pregnant. Mohammad Rahami then took his entire family to Pakistan, and purposefully abandoned Ahmad in the foreign country. The son then surprisingly found his way back to Elizabeth, thus moving back into a tumultuous family. After investigation, records show that Rahami had travelled back to Pakistan and Afghanistan multiple times between 2005 and 2011. After each trip, his family claimed that his demeanor and behavior changed drastically. Multiple police reports have shown violent incidents between Rahami and his family in their apartment. His father also claims to have found him watching Islamic extremist videos and wearing traditional clothing. Rahami even married a conservative Pakistani wife, and eventually had a son with her ―both of whom had left the U.S. a few days before the bombing.