Afghan-born U.S. citizen, suspect in NY City bomb attacks, talked to FBI for days

Photo of Ahmad Khan Rahimi. Federal prosecutors boosted their case Wednesday, Nov. 16, against Rahimi, charged with setting off bombs in New Jersey and New York that injured 30 people, bringing additional charges in an indictment and subjecting him to a potential mandatory life-in-prison penalty if he is convicted. (Union County Prosecutor's Office via AP, Sept 2016 File Photo)

LARRY NEUMEISTER, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) 11/17 — A man charged with setting off bombs in New Jersey and New York spoke with the FBI for days after his arrest as he was recovering from gunshot wounds, a prosecutor told a judge on Thursday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Lewin made the revelation after Ahmad Khan Rahimi pleaded not guilty to an indictment charging him in the Sept. 17 attacks, which wounded 30 people when a pressure cooker bomb exploded in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. Another bomb nearby did not explode.

Lewin told U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman that evidence against Rahimi includes two FBI reports of statements he made across multiple days after his Sept. 19 capture during a shootout with police in Linden, New Jersey. The prosecutor didn’t disclose what Rahimi told the FBI.

Other evidence prosecutors plan to turn over to defense lawyers within weeks includes video clips of Rahimi’s movements on the day of the bombings, internet records showing he bought bomb-making materials and proof his fingerprints and DNA were found on explosive devices, Lewin said.

Besides the Manhattan attacks, Rahimi, an Afghan-born U.S. citizen from Elizabeth, New Jersey, is charged with detonating a pipe bomb along a Marine Corps charity race in Seaside Park, New Jersey, earlier in the day. Another bomb found at a train station didn’t explode.

The prosecutor said video clips would show Rahimi “carrying and planting” at least one of the bombs. The videos show him carrying bags outside his New Jersey home, walking on the Manhattan street where the injuries occurred and leaving materials in a bag a few streets away where the second pressure cooker bomb was found, he said.

Rahimi, who was hospitalized with gunshot wounds after the Sept. 19 police shootout, coughed into his shirt repeatedly during his court appearance on Thursday as his lawyers, Peggy Cross-Goldenberg and Sabrina Shroff, gave him water.

Cross-Goldenberg said he had to cut short a medical appointment to come to court, and she suggested hearings be held sparingly. The judge scheduled one for next month and January, though no trial date was set.

“Not guilty is the plea you want to enter?” the judge asked Rahimi after describing the eight-count indictment.

“Yes, sir,” Rahimi responded.

Initially after Rahimi was captured judges in both states denied attempts by public defenders to represent him, agreeing with prosecutors’ arguments he hadn’t officially been arrested by federal authorities. Rahimi’s father and wife requested the American Civil Liberties Union represent him until he was appointed a lawyer. The ACLU was able to step in after about a week, and then Rahimi’s family was allowed to speak with his doctors for the first time.

The ACLU said then that denying Rahimi’s right to a lawyer after his capture in New Jersey violated the Constitution and sacrificed civil liberties in the name of national security.

Rahimi is still recovering from multiple bullet wounds. He was moved last week to a federal lockup next to the Manhattan courthouse. If convicted of all charges, he could face a mandatory life prison sentence.

The head of New York’s FBI office, William Sweeney, said Rahimi “had no regard for human life when he allegedly placed not one but four bombs in the New York and New Jersey area in September.” He said in a statement “it’s clear that Rahimi’s goal was to bring fear and destruction to innocent people.”

Posted in: Attacks on Police, Courts & Trials, Crime & Criminals, FBI, Islamic Terrorism/Extremism, Terrorism

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