Ahmad Khan Rahami, a native of Afghanistan who is a suspect in the bombings in New York City and New Jersey over the weekend, was taken into custody following a shootout with police in Linden, New Jersey, on September 19. Rahami was wanted for questioning in connection with the blast that injured 29 people in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan on Saturday evening, September 17.
Before being apprehended, Rahami shot one officer in the abdomen, but the officer escaped serious injury because the bullet struck his Kevlar vest.
The New York Times quoted Captain James Sarnicki of the Linden Police Department as saying that “the officer returned fire” and that Rahami fled, “indiscriminately firing his weapon at passing vehicles.”
The Times reported that other officers joined the chase, during which Rahami was shot multiple times. At least one other officer was injured.
Rahami, who was bleeding from a wound in his shoulder, was loaded onto a stretcher and taken away in an ambulance.
Police plan to question Rahami in connection with an explosion that occurred near a Marine Corps charity race in Seaside Park, New Jersey. Seaside Park is a tiny borough of less than three quarters of a square mile and a population of only 1,500 and is located just south of the better-known community of Seaside Heights, which was made famous by being the setting of MTV programming such as the TV program Jersey Shore.
Police also found five pipe bombs near a train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey, half a mile from Rahami’s last-known address, on Sunday, and detonated one of them with a robot while attempting to disarm the device.
Rahami’s family, who migrated to Elizabeth, New Jersey, from Afghanistan, operates a restaurant called First American Fried Chicken on the ground floor of their home. An article in the New York Times cited a statement from Elizabeth Mayor J. Christian Bollwage, who said that when the restaurant opened several years ago, it stayed open all night, which drew complaints from neighbors, who were disturbed by patrons loitering in the neighborhood all night long. “The City Council voted to shut it down at 10,” Bollwage told the Times. “They kept getting complaints from neighbors; it was a distress to people in the neighborhood.”
It is still too early to establish a direct link between Rahami and foreign terrorist organizations, but the investigation may uncover more evidence as it proceeds. New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said on CNN during a Monday morning interview: “I would not be surprised if we did have a foreign connection to the act.”
Speaking in an interview on Fox & Friends on September 19, presidential candidate Donald Trump questioned those officials who said there was no apparent connection between the explosions and international terrorism. “I think there [are] many foreign connections,” said Trump. “I think this is one group. You have many, many groups because we’re allowing these people to come into our country and destroy our country and make it unsafe for people.”
Trump received criticism from some quarters for telling a crowd at a rally in Colorado Springs on Saturday, shortly after the Manhattan explosion, that a “bomb” had gone off in New York City.
“I must tell you that just before I got off the plane, a bomb went off in New York,” Trump told the Colorado audience “And nobody knows exactly what’s going on. But, boy, we are living in a time — we better get very tough, folks. We better get very, very tough.”
However, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who is a strong Trump Supporter, defended Trump’s early call on the incident, made before officials had identified the cause of the explosion as a bomb. “I think that what Donald did was perfectly appropriate,” Christie said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday morning.
Even Trump’s opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, told reporters aboard her plane shortly afterwards that she had been briefed on “the bombings” in New York and New Jersey, though she criticized Trump for not deferring to local and federal law enforcement and allowing them to make the first official announcement.
“I don’t think you have to defer when saying that there was an explosion and a bomb in New York,” Christie said in defense of Trump. “I mean, everybody knew that. It was being reported on television.”
During his Fox & Friends interview, Trump criticized President Obama’s recently announced goal to admit 110,000 refugees from around the world to the United States during the 2017 fiscal year — an increase from the 85,000 goal for the 2016 fiscal year. “They can’t be properly vetted,” Trump said. “I spoke to law enforcement, the best people in law enforcement. They think there’s no way of vetting these people.”
The problems associated with the administration’s widespread admission of immigrants and refugees from countries that are of concern to national security is made apparent by looking at recent incidents reported in the news.
As one example, CNS news reported on September 19 that almost 100,000 Somali refugees have been resettled in the United States since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, including 8,619 during the current fiscal year. Somalia has become a major center for terrorist activity in recent years, as was noted in a “Critical Threats” report from the American Enterprise Institute, which stated:
Somalia has gained attention in recent years due to increased piratical activity near its coastlines; however, a potentially more dangerous threat lurks in the country's southern regions. Should Somalia slide from a failed state to absolute dissolution, the militant Islamist group al Shabaab could provide a haven for international terrorists determined to launch attacks aimed at Somalia's neighbors and even the West.
The CNS report noted that of the 97,046 Somali refugees admitted to the United States since the fall of 2001, 99.6 percent were Muslim, and 28,836 (29.7 percent) were males between the ages of 14 and 50. While no one can suggest that most Muslim immigrants are terrorists, the particular profile noted by CNS does fit the 9/11 hijackers, as well as Ahmad Khan Rahami, indicating that greater care should be take before admitting migrants from countries such as Somalia or Syria, where terrorism is rampant.
CNS alsocited an incident that took place on September 17 (the same night as the New York bombing) at the Crossroads Center in St. Cloud, Minnesota, when Dahir Adan, a 22-year-old Somali-American college student born in Africa, stabbed nine people.
Somali-American community leaders condemned the attack, but ISIS spokesmen claimed it was carried out by “a soldier of the Islamic state.”
Additionally, the report cited an FBI report stating that since 2007, several dozen young men from Minneapolis-Saint Paul have traveled to Somalia to fight with al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-affiliate.
Another troublesome report from AP on September 19 cited an internal Homeland Security audit released the same day revealing that the U.S. government has mistakenly granted citizenship to at least 858 immigrants from countries of concern to national security or with high rates of immigration fraud who had pending deportation orders.
While the report does not identify any of the aliens by name, Inspector General John Roth's auditors said they were all from “special interest countries” that present a national security concern for the United States or neighboring countries with high rates of immigration fraud.
Especially troubling, considering that several of the 9/11 hijackers learned to fly aircraft, which they hijacked and flew into buildings, was the fact that at least three of the immigrants mistakenly granted citizenship were able to acquire aviation or transportation worker credentials, granting them access to secure areas in airports or maritime facilities and vessels.
These incidents vindicate Trump’s assertion that the massive flow of migrants “can’t be properly vetted.”
Such concerns were shared by New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, who is running for the Senate in 2016. Hassan said last fall that the federal government should “halt acceptance of refugees from Syria until intelligence and defense officials can assure that the process for vetting all refugees ... is as strong as possible.”