As FBI agents continue the investigation, searching Ahmad Khan Rahami’s family home Monday shortly after his capture, details are beginning to emerge about the suspect.
Born in 1988 in Afghanistan, Rahimi became a naturalized U.S. citizen shortly after his family emigrated to the United States in the 1990s.
The family of the Chelsea bombing suspect had a history of legal troubles with officials of their New Jersey town — filing a federal lawsuit against the city of Elizabeth claiming they had been unfairly discriminated against because of their race and ethnicity.
Ahmad Khan Rahami’s family sued the city following a ruling from the City Council that forced them to close their 24-hour restaurant, First American Fried Chicken, at 10 p.m. every night because of noise complaints from people who lived nearby.
“They kept getting complaints from neighbors. It was a distress to people in the neighborhood,” Mayor Christian Bollwage said at a press conference Monday morning held outside the Elmora Ave. restaurant, which Rahami’s family lived above, The New York Post reported.
The lawsuit, filed in 2011, named the mayor, the City Council and 20 police officers, according to court documents.
But Bollwage insisted Monday that the City Council’s early closure ruling was not racist.“It was neighbor complaints. It had nothing to do with his ethnicity or religion,” he said at a press conference, according to the New York Times. “It had to do with noise and people congregating on the streets.”
Frequent customers of the Elmora Avenue eatery said the 28-year-old was obsessed with cars.
“All this guy ever talks about is his cars. He loves fixing cars up and making them fast. All I ever heard him talk about was Honda Civics, Honda Accords, maybe an Acura. He would soup them up,” said Ryan McCann, 33, who frequents the restaurant.
“His accent is Americanized,” McCann told the Post.
The Post reported Rahami’s father, Mohammed, wasn’t as assimilated as his son and was sometimes mocked for wearing his traditional outfits.
“People say racist stuff about him sometimes, like he looks like a terrorist, but no one would imagine anyone in his family could be an actual terrorist,” said 33-year-old Nelson Vilela, who lives a few blocks away, said in an interview with the Post.
“If it’s true what they’re saying about this guy, he literally lives a couple blocks from a school. It’s very scary. You would never imagine someone of that nature living so close by,” she said.