News and Commentary

Despite Piles of Evidence, Manhattan Bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami Not Put on Any Watch List
FILE – This September 2016 file photo provided by Union County Prosecutor’s Office shows Ahmad Khan Rahami, who he is in custody as a suspect in the weekend bombings in New York and New Jersey. Rahami worked as an unarmed night guard for two months in 2011 at an AP administrative technology office in Cranbury, […]

With the arrest of Ahmad Khan Rahami, the suspected Manhattan bomber, evidence is pouring in that various organizations, including the FBI, may have dropped the ball.

CNN reports that Rahami traveled to Afghanistan, as well as Quetta, Pakistan in 2011. During his time in Pakistan, he was married.

According to CNN:

“Quetta is considered a stronghold of the Taliban…Upon returning from Pakistan in 2011 to the United States, he had to go through secondary screening because he visited an area of Pakistan known for its Taliban presence, according to the official.”

Rahami returned to Pakistan in 2013, where he remained for approximately 11 months before returning to the United States.

Despite his travels to and from Quetta and Afghanistan, Rahami wasn’t put on any “U.S. terrorist watch list or NYPD list,” reports CNBC.

The New York Times notes that after returning to the U.S., “some patrons [at First American Fried Chicken] noticed a certain transformation. He grew a beard and exchanged his typical wardrobe of T-shirts and sweatpants for traditional Muslim robes. He began to pray in the back of the store. His previous genial bearing turned more stern.”

His longtime friend, Flee Jones, noticed it as well:

“It’s like he was a completely different person. He got serious and completely closed off.”

NJ reports that the Rahami family sued the city of Elizabeth, New Jersey, in 2011 claiming anti-Muslim discrimination. After receiving complaints from neighbors regarding excessive late-night noise from the family’s chicken restaurant, the city issued an ordinance ordering the restaurant to close at 10 p.m.

The Rahami family didn’t believe it was about code, insisting it was “religious discrimination.”

In 2014, Rahami was arrested for allegedly stabbing someone in the leg. He spent three months in jail before a grand jury decided not to indict him, and he was released.

After the alleged stabbing, the FBI even interviewed Rahami’s father because, “according to two US officials,” reports CNN, he had called his son a terrorist. Investigators later decided it was a domestic issue.

Let’s recap:

Multiple trips to Middle Eastern locations, one of which is known to be a Taliban hotspot. A marked behavioral change following these trips. Legally dubious claims of religious discrimination. An aggregated assault with a sharp object. An interview with Rahami’s father because he allegedly called his son a terrorist.

Not put on any watch list.

The more that comes to light, the more it looks like officials let Ahmad Khan Rahami slip through the cracks.

Top image (AP): Sept. 18, 2016. Members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) carry on investigations at the scene of Saturday’s explosion on West 23rd Street and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, in New York.