NYC Bombings

Photo Source:

Nellie Shih

by Stephen Fatuzzo ’19, Contributor

Around 9:30 am on Saturday, September 17th, in Elizabeth, New Jersey, a pipe bomb exploded in a garbage can. The bombing occurred at the start of a charity 5k, with the donations going towards the Navy and Marines. Luckily, no one was injured in the blast, most likely due to the fact that the race had been delayed. During a further search, two more unexploded bombs were soon discovered in the area nearby.

At 8:30 pm, not far from the location of the first explosion, another blast rocked the streets of Chelsea, New York City. The blast occurred on West 23rd street, close to the Lincoln Tunnel, causing 31 minor injuries. All of those wounded in the bombings were taken to local hospitals, and were released by early Sunday morning. Police suspected a pressure cooker device to have been the source of the explosion, but a bombing was not immediately confirmed. However, media sources soon began to speculate that the two explosions were related, and word spread that the supposed bombings were terrorist acts.

Another pressure cooker bomb was soon discovered on West 27th street during the following police search, but it did not explode. Over the course of the weekend, police expanded their area of investigation across New Jersey, where a traffic stop and a raid on an apartment turned up nothing. Then, at 9:30 on Sunday night, two men discovered a backpack filled with 5 bombs ditched in a trash can in Elizabeth, New Jersey and immediately notified police. While the police bomb team disarmed the explosives, one of them detonated, but no one was injured. The others were taken into FBI custody as evidence. Police investigators believed they were hot on the trail of the bomber.

On Monday, September 19th, the FBI put out a wanted notice for Ahmad Khan Rahami.  It warned citizens that he was armed and dangerous, and that he was suspected in connection with the bombings of both NYC and New Jersey. Federal investigators originally suspected Rahami after finding his fingerprints on one of the recovered devices, the unexploded pressure cooker bomb in Chelsea. A massive manhunt was immediately set underway. A few hours later, around 11 am, in Linden, NJ, a bar owner noticed someone sleeping in his doorway. The bar owner, Harinder Bains, almost immediately recognized Rahami from the news and quickly called police. When officers arrived and one approached to wake him, Rahami fired on the officer, striking him in the bulletproof vest. Rahami then “began shooting ‘indiscriminately’ along Elizabeth Avenue,” according to USA Today. He proceeded to jump up and run down the street, striking a police car with a bullet as he fired wildly. Eventually, as more police officers arrived and returned fire, he was shot in the arm and the leg. He was then quickly arrested and taken into custody. According to Mayor Bill de Blasio, “There is no other individual [they] are [currently] looking for” in connection to the bombings.

Rahami has been charged with five counts of attempted murder on the police officers, as well as the possession of a weapon, and the possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. For the bombings, he has been charged with using “weapons of mass destruction and bombing a place of public use,” according to the New York Times. Media suspicions that Rahami is a Jihadist are backed up by the notebook found on him after his arrest, which included his praise of his “brother” Osama Bin Laden, as well as his determined mindset of “killing the kuffar” (unbelievers.) No ties have been found between Rahami and any terrorist groups as of yet, and no group has claimed responsibility for the bombings.

The US Presidential candidates shared their thoughts about the bombings soon after they occurred. Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, said soon after the explosions that “this [was] only going to get worse,” as well as declaring that these kind of attacks will happen more and more often in the future. Donald Trump has taken up a stance of non-tolerance on immigration, stating that we should block immigrants and aliens from coming into America, because they “destroy our country and make it unsafe for people.”

Hillary Clinton’s response was simply to urge patience and wait for law enforcement to investigate further, saying that it was “wiser to wait until [we] have information before making conclusions because we are just in the beginning stages of trying to determine what happened.” Later, Clinton once again spoke of her anti-terror plan, which is very similar to President Obama’s. It includes more intelligence, as well as trying to “work with Silicon Valley to counter propaganda.” Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s running mate, added that he disagreed that shootings and terrorist attacks were the new normal in America. He also said that although “we don’t know yet about the cause of these incidents… we’re not allowing [them] to be a normal [in our country].”