‘They didn’t do their job': Rahami’s dad says FBI never questioned jihad-obsessed son
New questions are being raised about the FBI's handling of suspected terrorist leads after a new interview with the father of alleged bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami.
In an interview conducted in his native language with the New York Times, Mohammad Rahami says he told the FBI back in 2014 that his son was "fascinated" with jihadist propaganda, including music, video and poetry.
“I told the FBI to keep an eye on him,” he's quoted as saying by the Times. “They said, ‘Is he a terrorist?’ I said: ‘I don’t know. I can’t guarantee you 100 percent if he is a terrorist. I don’t know which groups he is in. I can’t tell you.’”
The interview provides more details into the father's communications with the feds, which he first revealed to the public a day after his son was arrested in Linden in a shootout with police.
Rahami, 28, is facing charges of attempted murder of five police officers, filed by the Union County prosecutor in Superior Court, as well as a slew of terrorism charges filed by U.S. attorneys in federal courts in both Manhattan and Newark.
He has been accused of targeting a military charity race in Seaside Park in a botched bombing Saturday morning that resulted in no injuries, and with a bombing in Chelsea that injured 31 people that evening. A second bomb in Chelsea did not go off.
Authorities also said he left undetonated bombs, made with supplies he ordered off eBay, at the Midtown Elizabeth train station, which were discovered by two homeless men Sunday night and accidentally detonated by a police robot the next morning.
The complaint includes excerpts from a handwritten journal, damaged by blood and a bullet hole from the Monday gun fight.
The journal praises other terrorists and ends: "The sounds of the bombs will be heard in the streets. Gun shots to your police. Death To Your OPPRESSION."
Earlier this week, sources within the FBI told the press that authorities had investigated Rahani's father's claims but that the father later backtracked his statements.
In the latest — and so far, most comprehensive — interview with the father, however, Mohammad Rahami indicates that he never walked back anything.
“They didn’t do their job," he told the Times.
Rahami was jailed at the time on charges of stabbing a brother. He was never prosecuted on those charges because a grand jury in Union County declined to hand up indictments. He also has a history of domestic violence complaints.
Federal investigators say they get many tips like what they heard from Mohammad Rahami, but most are investigatory dead ends.
Customers at a fried chicken restaurant owned by Rahami's father in Elizabeth said his demeanor changed after taking trips overseas and he started wearing more ethnic clothing.
Before 2011, he worked as security guard and colleagues said he expressed sympathy for the Taliban and disdain for U.S. military action in Afghanistan.
Rahami made five trips overseas over the last six years, according to U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., who was briefed by the FBI on Tuesday. MacArthur represents the district including Seaside Park.
Rahami remained hospitalized Thursday. He still has not been questioned.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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