- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The New York-area bomb suspect’s journal referred to “Brother Osama Bin Laden” and said that — if Allah allowed it — bombs would be “heard in the streets,” according to federal charges that say Ahmad Khan Rahami sought to punish America for targeting Muslim warriors around the world.

“Gun shots to your police. Death To Your OPPRESSION,” Mr. Rahami scrawled at the end of his journal, says the criminal complaint, which also accuses him of purchasing bomb ingredients on eBay and recording a gleeful video of himself igniting a blast in a backyard before last weekend’s homemade explosions got underway.

The 28-year-old U.S. citizen of Afghan descent remained hospitalized Wednesday with gunshot wounds from the shootout with police that led to his capture Monday. It wasn’t clear if he has a lawyer yet, as new twists emerged in the case.

Investigators were looking more deeply into visits Mr. Rahami made in recent years to Pakistan and Afghanistan in search of evidence that he received direct training or financial support from a terrorist group. No such evidence has surfaced, and it appears Mr. Rahami was not trying to keep a low profile during one trip to Pakistan.

The mother of Mr. Rahami’s child is believed to be a Pakistani national. On a visit there in 2014, law enforcement officials say, Mr. Rahami personally emailed his congressman in New Jersey, Democratic Rep. Albio Sires, seeking help because his then-pregnant wife had an expired passport.

There were also reports the wife was at one point questioned by U.S. authorities in the United Arab Emirates, which has a large expatriate Pakistani population and airports offering daily flights to Pakistan. A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi told The Associated Press that U.S. officials there are “aware of the reports but don’t have any comment at this time.”

Authorities were still hoping Wednesday to question Mr. Rahami about his travel and acquaintances, but sources said he has not cooperated — although that might be due to his injuries.

On a separate front, the FBI continues to scramble to identify and speak with two men who found a suitcase on a New York City sidewalk Saturday, removed a pressure cooker bomb from it and then stole the luggage, leaving the bomb behind. Authorities released a photo of the two men Wednesday with hopes of identifying them and locating the luggage, which could provide more clues.

While the pressure cooker bomb removed from the luggage did not detonate, a second device left inside a garbage bin on West 23rd Street in Manhattan did explode and injured 31 people.

The Rahami criminal complaint says he placed the two bombs in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, as well as a bomb that exploded near the route of a charity race for U.S. Marines in Seaside Park, New Jersey, and five other explosive devices found at a train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

The suspect’s fingerprints are alleged to have been found on the unexploded Manhattan bomb, which is described in the charges as “a pressure cooker connected with wires to a cellular telephone and packed with, among other things, a high-explosive main charge, ball bearings, and steel nuts.”

With regard to the bomb that did explode in Manhattan, the complaint refers to at least one of the 31 people injured as having had “multiple ball bearings removed from her body, as well as metal fragmentation from her ear and wood shards from her neck.”

It goes on to maintain the suspect’s bloodied journal — damaged during his shootout with police on Monday — shows how he fumed that the U.S. government was slaughtering Muslim holy warriors and alluded to plans for revenge.

In addition to referencing bin Laden, the journal allegedly says: “You (USA Government) continue your [unintelligible] slaught[er] against the mujahideen be it Afghanistan, Iraq, Sham [Syria], Palestine.”

Another section mentions “pipe bombs” and a “pressure cooker bomb” and declares: “In the streets they plan to run a mile,” an apparent reference to the charity race that was targeted.

“Inshallah [God willing] the sounds of the bombs will be heard in the streets,” the journal says.

The charges describe how a relative’s cellphone video shows Mr. Rahami igniting incendiary material in a backyard just two days before the bombings.

“Geolocation information associated with the video indicates that it was filmed at, or in the immediate vicinity of” Mr. Rahami’s residence in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the charges state.

There also are laudatory references to Anwar al-Awlaki, U.S.-born Muslim cleric and former al Qaeda recruiter, and Nidal Hasan, a former Army major who killed 13 people in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009. Al-Awlaki, widely considered to be one of the most dangerous, prolific and successful jihadi recruiters of the past decade, was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen five years ago this month.

Homeless heroes

Two homeless men were being hailed as heroes Wednesday for alerting police after discovering a suspicious bag near the Elizabeth, New Jersey, train station Sunday night.

One of the men, Lee Parker, said he still pictures the explosion that could have happened if he had dropped the backpack he took from a garbage can Sunday night while a friend bought beer.

“I see it sometimes in the back of my mind, and I know I need to get past it,” said the 50-year-old. “But I feel good. I’m OK, and I’m grateful.”

Authorities say Mr. Parker and a friend contacted police after finding the bag. One of the bombs later exploded while a police robot was trying to disarm it.

Mr. Parker said he realized something was wrong when he noticed wires protruding from something that he first thought were decorative candles. He dropped the bag and went with his friend Ivan White to the police.

Thousands of dollars reportedly have since been donated to an online GoFundMe campaign for the two men.

Linda Flores-Tober, executive director of the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless, said she’s glad the men are being recognized.

“These men were first identified as homeless, but they shouldn’t be anonymous,” she said. “They did the right thing and deserve all of the attention for what they are — heroes. They deserve to be known.”

Andrea Noble contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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