2 po­ten­tial bomb­ing wit­nesses seen with suit­case are sought

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Jake Pear­son and Me­gan Trim­ble

NEW YORK >> In­ves­ti­ga­tors of last week­end’s bomb­ings have re­leased an im­age of two men who took a suit­case they found on a city street, pos­si­bly with­out re­al­iz­ing a wired pres­sure cooker they re­moved from it and left be­hind could have blown them to bits.

Po­lice in­ves­ti­gat­ing the bomb­ings in New York and New Jersey have been say­ing for sev­eral days they were look­ing for the men, who they stressed were be­ing sought as po­ten­tial wit­nesses in the case, not as sus­pects.

“They’re not in any jeop­ardy of be­ing ar­rested,” Jim Wat­ters, chief of the New York Po­lice De­part­ment’s coun­tert­er­ror­ism unit, said on Wed­nes­day. “We have no rea­son to be­lieve they’re con­nected.”

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors have charged Ah­mad Khan Ra­hami with det­o­nat­ing a pipe bomb in a New Jersey shore town on Satur­day morn­ing and a pres­sure cooker bomb in New York City’s Chelsea neigh­bor­hood later that night. Thirty-one peo­ple were in­jured in the New York blast. A sec­ond pres­sure cooker bomb left in Man­hat­tan didn’t ex­plode and is the sub­ject of the lat­est pub­lic plea.

Pros­e­cu­tors said surveil­lance video shows Ra­hami rolling a suit­case down the street, then aban­don­ing it on the side­walk where that sec­ond de­vice was found.

A few min­utes later, two men pass by the lug­gage and ap­pear to ad­mire it, po­lice said. They then re­move a pres­sure cooker from the lug­gage, leave the pres­sure cooker on the side­walk and walk away with the lug­gage.

“I think they were more in­ter­ested in the bag, not what they were tak­ing out,” Wat­ters said, adding that they were “very, very lucky” the bomb didn’t ex­plode.

In court pa­pers, a pub­lic de­fender sought a court ap­pear­ance for Ra­hami, an Afghan-born U.S. cit­i­zen, so he can hear the fed­eral ter­ror­ism charges against him.

Ra­hami, 28, was ar­rested on Mon­day fol­low­ing a shootout with po­lice in Lin­den, New Jersey. He is be­ing held on $5.2 mil­lion bail, and he faces state charges of at­tempted mur­der of po­lice of­fi­cers.

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Loretta Lynch said Ra­hami will be moved to New York to face fed­eral charges in the “near fu­ture.”

In a blood­ied jour­nal re­cov­ered by in­ves­ti­ga­tors, Ra­hami made ref­er­ences to Osama bin Laden, Amer­i­can-born Mus­lim cleric An­war al-Awlaki and for­mer Army of­fi­cer Ni­dal Hasan, who went on a shoot­ing ram­page in Ford Hood, Texas, ac­cord­ing to a fed­eral com­plaint.

In one sec­tion, the com­plaint says, Ra­hami wrote: “Death to your op­pres­sion.”

Two fed­eral law en­force­ment of­fi­cials said Ra­hami’s wife, thought to be a Pak­istani na­tional, will re­turn soon to the United States. One of the of­fi­cials said the wife made a state­ment to au­thor­i­ties after walk­ing into the U.S. Em­bassy in the United Arab Emi­rates. The other of­fi­cial said in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve she left the U.S. for Pak­istan in June. The of­fi­cials spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they weren’t au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the on­go­ing case.

Mean­while, Demo­cratic Gov. An­drew Cuomo, tour­ing the site of the Man­hat­tan blast on Wed­nes­day, said he be­lieves in­sur­ance com­pa­nies will cover most of the losses in­curred by those whose busi­nesses and homes were dam­aged. But he said if there are gaps in cov­er­age, the state would pay for any­thing left out­stand­ing from its emer­gency funds.

Also Wed­nes­day, a home­less man who took a back­pack from a garbage can near a train sta­tion in El­iz­a­beth, New Jersey, on Sun­day night, not know­ing it con­tained pipe bombs pros­e­cu­tors say were made by Ra­hami, said he’s grate­ful he didn’t prompt an ex­plo­sion.

“I don’t like to think about what could have hap­pened, but I’m just so blessed and glad it didn’t,” Lee Parker said. “I still have my nine lives, I guess, and I’m go­ing to keep try­ing to live them well.”


This video frame grab pro­vided by the FBI shows two uniden­ti­fied men walk­ing in the Chelsea neigh­bor­hood of New York on Satur­day around the time when a bomb ex­ploded on a nearby street. In­ves­ti­ga­tors said the men are be­ing sought as wit­nesses in con­nec­tion with the ex­plo­sion and an­other ex­plo­sive de­vice that was found nearby.

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