Police Hunt for 28-Year-Old Man in Connection With Manhattan Bombing

SEPT. 19, 2016

The home of Ahmad Khan Rahami in Elizabeth, N.J., on Monday. He is being sought in connection with the bombing in Manhattan on Saturday night. CreditBryan Anselm for The New York Times

The police are searching for a 28-year-old man, described as a naturalized citizen of Afghan descent, Ahmad Khan Rahami, in connection with the bombing in Manhattan on Saturday night, sending out a cellphone alert to millions of residents.

“I want to be very clear that this individual could be armed and dangerous,” Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York said on Monday morning. “Anyone seeing him should call 911 immediately.”

Mr. de Blasio would not go into detail about why Mr. Khan was wanted, but he said finding him was critical to the safety of the city.

“What we do know is we need to get this guy right away,” he said.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who had said on Sunday that the attack did not appear to have a link to international terrorism, said new evidence might change that thinking.

“I would not be surprised if we did have a foreign connection to the act,” he said on CNN on Monday morning.

Mr. Rahami was born on January 23, 1988, in Afghanistan. His last known address was in Elizabeth, N.J. He is described as about 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs about 200 pounds. Mr. Rahami has brown hair, brown eyes and brown facial hair.

Hours before his name was released, the police discovered five pipe bombs near a train station in Elizabeth, detonating one of them overnight as they sought to disarm them. Before dawn, agents conducted a series of raids in the New Jersey city.

F.B.I. agents with dogs and Elizabeth police officers swarmed a residential neighborhood of low-rise apartment buildings, multiple family homes and small businesses.

In a separate appearance, Mr. de Blasio said New Yorkers should be prepared to see a large increase in police presence across the city.

“In the coming hours we are going to be able to say a lot more about what happened here,” Mr. de Blasio said during an interview on the show “Good Morning America.” “It is certainly leaning more in the direction that this was a specific act of terror.”

Late on Sunday night, the police stopped a car on the Belt Parkway near the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and questioned five people who were connected to Mr. Rahami.

There was heightened police activity on both sides of the Hudson River overnight, as the police responded to reports and chased down leads, including the tip that led to the discovery of the pipe bombs in Elizabeth.

Two men walked out of Hector’s Place Restaurant near the city’s train station and found a backpack containing five explosives resting atop a municipal garbage can, Mayor J. Christian Bollwage said.

After finding that the backpack contained “wires and a pipe,” the mayor said, the men dropped the item in the street and contacted the Elizabeth Police Department around 8:45 p.m. The police, in turn, called the Union County bomb squad, and the investigation was quickly turned over to the F.B.I. and the New Jersey State Police, Mr. Bollwage said.

The F.B.I. then sent in a pair of robots and determined that the backpack held five bombs, some of which were pipe bombs, the mayor said.

Around 12:30 a.m., the robots tried to clip a wire to disarm one bomb and accidentally detonated it, the mayor said.


The F.B.I. released a photograph of Ahmad Khan Rahami, who is wanted for questioning in connection with the Chelsea bombing.“As a robot was trying to disarm one of the devices, it exploded,” he said. No injuries were reported.
The mayor said around 3 a.m. Monday that one robot was destroyed and another had a mechanical arm blown off.

It was not yet known whether the backpack found here had any connection to a bomb that injured 29 people in Manhattan on Saturday night, or to a bomb nearby that failed to detonate, or to a bomb that went off Saturday morning in Seaside Park, N.J., without injuring anybody.

As federal and county agents scoured the elevated tracks and platforms for anything else suspicious, Elizabeth police officers checked all municipal garbage cans.

Police cars and yellow tape blocked every car and pedestrian route to the station early Monday morning. The city was eerily calm but for the flickering of red-and-blue police lights on the buildings downtown.

Dean Fage, 49, was walking past police cars and officers at the station when the bomb went off.

“People were screaming; a woman yelled, ‘What the hell was that?’ ” he said. “I felt it in my chest. I thought when they find bombs they take them and detonate them somewhere else.”

As of 3:30 a.m. on Monday, F.B.I. agents were still working to envelop the four remaining bombs in blastproof material so they could be preserved for evidence. They were to be taken to the Middlesex County Fire Academy, where they would be picked up by federal agents who would take them to Quantico, Va.

F.B.I. agents worked through the early morning hours to document where the debris from the exploded bomb had landed. It was on the street level, which meant the train tracks above were not affected, the mayor said. Nonetheless, the immediate area would remain closed for 24 hours, he said.

The men who initially found the backpack were not suspects, the mayor said. Thinking that it contained valuables, they had carried it perhaps 1,000 feet before becoming exhausted by its weight. They set it down where their muscles gave out, beside an S.U.V. under the New Jersey Transit overpass on Broad Street at the station downtown, the mayor said.

Law enforcement officials were examining surveillance video from the cameras of the bar near where the backpack was found. The mayor said that the area had been searched and that no other such packages had been found.

Mr. Bollwage said he did not think that Elizabeth had necessarily been targeted by an attacker.

“It is very possible that someone was trying to get rid of a package, as opposed to setting it off,” he said.

Mr. Bollwage said late on Sunday that all trains from New Jersey Transit and Amtrak going through Elizabeth had been shut down and that a shuttle would arrive to shepherd stranded passengers away. More than 2,000 riders were affected.

On Monday morning, New Jersey Transit announced that service on the Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast lines, which had been suspended in both directions, would resume at 5:30 a.m., but it warned that “customers are advised to plan for delays.”

Amtrak said that Acela and Northeast Regional trains would run on a modified schedule on Monday, and it cautioned that “passengers should be prepared for the possibility of additional cancellations and delays throughout the day.”
Mr. Bollwage said that he was worried on behalf of the residents in the community where the bomb was found, but that his fears extended beyond the city that he governs.

He said he was “extremely concerned for everybody in the state and the country, where somebody can go and drop a backpack into a garbage can that has multiple explosives in it.”

“You have to wonder how many people could have been hurt,” he added. “I could imagine if all five of them went off at the same time, the loss of life could have been tremendous.”