New York bomber sen­tenced to life

Business World - - THE WORLD -

NEW YORK — A US restau­rant worker in­spired by Osama bin Laden was sen­tenced to life in prison Tues­day for wound­ing 31 peo­ple in a 2016 New York bomb­ing, branded “ex­tremely dan­ger­ous” by a fed­eral judge.

Afghan-born Ah­mad Khan Rahimi, 30, told the court that he be­came rad­i­cal­ized af­ter be­ing “ha­rassed” by the FBI and “sin­gled out” for his re­li­gion, but showed no re­morse for in­flict­ing the bloody in­juries.

Prose­cu­tors told his two-week trial last year it was a “mir­a­cle” that no­body was killed in the Septem­ber 17, 2016 at­tack.

A se­cond bomb forced the can­cel­la­tion of a US Marine Corps run in the New Jer­sey town of Sea­side Park. He was con­victed on all eight counts.

Po­lice also de­fused an­other de­vice in Chelsea and found ad­di­tional pipe bombs in Mr. Rahimi’s home­town of El­iz­a­beth, New Jer­sey, where he worked in his fam­ily’s fried chicken restau­rant.

Mr. Rahimi was crit­i­cally wounded in a shoot-out with po­lice on Sept. 19 be­fore be­ing cap­tured, and was found with a hand­writ­ten jour­nal laud­ing Osama bin Laden and US-born Al-Qaeda re­cruiter Anwar al-Awlaki.

He moved to the US in 1995 with his fam­ily and be­came a nat­u­ral­ized cit­i­zen in 2011.

Ad­dress­ing the court at length, Mr. Rahimi said he un­der­stood why there were frus­tra­tions be­tween Mus­lim coun­tries and Amer­i­cans.

“I have been here for more than 20 years, I had Amer­i­can friends and Mus­lim friends,” he said. Things started to change, he said, af­ter he started act­ing and dress­ing like a de­vout Mus­lim.

“I was ha­rassed by the FBI,” he said, re­fer­ring to go­ing on hol­i­day to the Do­mini­can Repub­lic. He claimed he was “sin­gled out just be­cause of my at­tire” af­ter re­turn­ing from a trip to Pak­istan.

“I was never dis­crim­i­nated for my re­li­gion un­til I started fol­low­ing it,” he said.

Mr. Rahimi’s fa­ther con­tacted the FBI in the months lead­ing up to the at­tack, warn­ing them about his son’s mil­i­tant sym­pa­thies.

“I did not hear an ounce of jus­ti­fi­ca­tion,” US District Judge Richard Ber­man.

“There is no com­par­i­son be­tween the griev­ances that you may feel and the ac­tions you took... The con­clu­sion is in­escapable that you re­main ex­tremely dan­ger­ous,” the judge added.

“In­no­cent peo­ple on a Satur­day night, it is in­ex­pli­ca­ble that any­body would do that de­lib­er­ately. But you did. It was you.”

Since Mr. Rahimi’s ar­rest, two other lone-wolf at­tack­ers have car­ried out bomb­ings in New York. A Bangladeshi driver det­o­nated a bomb in a sub­way pas­sage­way, wound­ing him­self and three other peo­ple in De­cem­ber.

On Oct. 31, an Uzbek im­mi­grant, also re­port­edly in­spired by the Is­lamic State ex­trem­ist group, killed eight peo­ple on a bike path by ram­ming his truck into cy­clists.

New York re­tains strin­gent se­cu­rity, which was dras­ti­cally stepped up af­ter the Sept. 11, 2001 Al-Qaeda hi­jack­ings brought down the Twin Towers.

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