Bombing Suspect Spent Time In Afghanistan And Had Money Trouble

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This frame from surveillance video released by the New Jersey State Police shows Ahmad Khan Rahami, who was taken into custody on Monday.

Updated Sept. 20, 5:50 p.m. ET, with detail on foreign travel, arrest and marriage

Here's what we know about Ahmad Khan Rahami, the suspect in weekend bombings in New York and New Jersey, who was taken into custody on Monday after a shootout with police and charged with five counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer and two counts related to possession of a weapon:

  • He was born in Afghanistan on Jan. 23, 1988.
  • It's unclear when Rahami first came to the United States. He is now an American citizen. Records indicate that his father, Mohammad R. Rahami, now 53, got a Social Security card in New Jersey in 1989 or 1990.
  • The father incorporated his restaurant, First American Fried Chicken, in 2003 and filed for bankruptcy in 2005 in Newark, N.J. He and his wife, Najiba, were separated, according to bankruptcy documents, which also showed he was responsible for eight dependent children.
  • Rahami graduated from Edison High School in Edison, N.J., in 2007.
  • In 2008, Rahami was sued for child support, totaling $996, by a New Jersey woman named Maria Mena.
  • Rahami briefly attended Middlesex County College in Edison. A spokesman there says he studied criminal justice from the fall of 2010 to the fall of 2012. He didn't graduate.
  • Investigators say that over the past few years, Rahami made frequent trips back and forth to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Those trips would last for months. He stayed for about a year in Quetta, Pakistan, on the border with Afghanistan. The ruling council of the Afghan Taliban is based there. Al-Qaida has a big presence there. He also spent time in Karachi. The Pakistani Taliban is active there. Investigators don't know whether he had contact with those groups. But there may be clues in that pressure cooker he left on the street in Manhattan — that's the bomb that didn't go off. Investigators say that bomb used a powerful explosive and had a sophisticated detonator, raising questions as to whether he got instruction in bomb-making.
  • Rahami has had money problems. He was sued in small claims court in 2012. He was evicted from an apartment in 2013.
  • Rahami worked at his family's fried chicken restaurant, on Elmora Avenue in Elizabeth, N.J. Recently, he lived above the restaurant.
  • The Rahami family says it was the target of anti-Muslim harassment. The family filed a lawsuit in 2011 against the city of Elizabeth, the police department and a neighbor. The lawsuit says the restaurant was cited multiple times — from July 4, 2008, to April 28, 2010 — for staying open past 10 p.m. The family says the complaints were spurred by James Dean McDermott, a neighbor, who came into the restaurant and said, "Muslims make too much trouble in this country" and "Muslims don't belong here." McDermott, in court documents, denied saying that. Elizabeth's mayor, Christian Bollwage, told NPR that the dispute had nothing to do with religion but with noise and loitering.
  • Documents from Union County Superior Court, obtained by NPR, show that Rahami was arrested on Aug. 22, 2014, and charged with assault for allegedly stabbing Nasim Rahami in the left leg. The complaint doesn't identify the victim, but news reports have said Nasim is his brother. In the same incident, Rahami was also found with a firearm and charged with unlawful possession of a weapon. News outlets reported that Rahami spent two or three months in jail but was never prosecuted.
  • It was after this incident that Rahami briefly came under FBI scrutiny. According to the New York Times, Rahami's father told local police who investigated the stabbing that Rahami might be involved in terrorism.
  • Investigators believe that on one of Rahami's trips to Pakistan, he got married. Aides to Rep. Albio Sires, D-N.J., tell NPR that in 2014, Rahami contacted the congressman's office. He wanted to bring his wife back with him to the United States. He said she was pregnant and that the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad said she needed to wait until the baby was born, because she would need a visa for the child. Law enforcement sources say his wife did get to the U.S. Some media outlets have reported that she may have left the country just days before the bombings, but officials tell NPR that U.S. immigration officials have not been able to confirm her departure.
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