Bomb­ing sus­pect still too in­jured to ques­tion, of­fi­cial says LIN­DEN, N.J. >>

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Eric Tucker and Dake Kang

In­ves­ti­ga­tors haven’t been able to ques­tion a man charged with set­ting off bombs in New York and New Jersey be­cause he’s too se­verely in­jured from his shootout with po­lice, a law en­force­ment of­fi­cial said Thursday as the man’s father said he’d warned fed­eral au­thor­i­ties about the man’s in­ter­est in ji­hadist ma­te­rial.

Ah­mad Khan Ra­hami re­mained hos­pi­tal­ized af­ter his gun­bat­tle with po­lice of­fi­cers Mon­day, and it was un­clear when he might be taken to court to face fed­eral ter­ror­ism charges in the blasts, which in­jured 31 peo­ple Satur­day. A pub­lic de­fender has sought a court ap­pear­ance for Ra­hami so he can hear the charges against him.

Ra­hami, an Afghan-born U.S. cit­i­zen, has been un­con­scious and in­tu­bated for much of the time since un­der­go­ing surgery, said Robert Reilly, a spokesman for the FBI’s Ne­wark of­fice.

The of­fi­cial who dis­cussed au­thor­i­ties’ in­abil­ity to ques­tion Ra­hami was not au­tho­rized to dis­cuss an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion by name and spoke to The Associated Press on the con­di­tion of anonymity.

Pros­e­cu­tors say Ra­hami, 28, planned the ex­plo­sions for months as he bought com­po­nents for his bombs on­line and set off a back­yard blast. They say he wrote a journal that praised Osama bin Laden and other Mus­lim ex­trem­ists, fumed about what he saw as the U.S. gov­ern­ment’s killing of Mus­lim holy war­riors and de­clared “death to your op­pres­sion.”

Ra­hami’s father said in a New York Times in­ter­view pub­lished Thursday that he had told the FBI two years ago that Ra­hami was drawn to al-Qaida and Tal­iban videos and poetry.

“I told the FBI to keep an eye on him,” the Times quoted the father as say­ing in his na­tive Pashto.

He said he told the agents he couldn’t say “100 per­cent if he is a ter­ror­ist.”

The FBI has said it looked into Ra­hami in 2014 af­ter learn­ing of com­ments his father made af­ter Ra­hami was ar­rested on charges of stab­bing his brother. The FBI said it checked data­bases, con­sulted other agen­cies and con­ducted in­ter­views but found noth­ing ty­ing Ra­hami to ter­ror­ism.

At the time, Ra­hami’s father backed away from talk of ter­ror­ism and told in­ves­ti­ga­tors he sim­ply meant Ra­hami was hang­ing out with the wrong crowd, in­clud­ing gang mem­bers, a law en­force­ment of­fi­cial told the AP this week.

The father, Mo­ham­mad Ra­hami, said the FBI never spoke to his son, who was jailed at the time on the stab­bing charge. The son ul­ti­mately wasn’t pros­e­cuted af­ter a grand jury de­clined to in­dict him.

The FBI had no im­me­di­ate com­ment on the father’s re­marks Thursday.

As au­thor­i­ties tried to piece to­gether in­for­ma­tion on Ah­mad Ra­hami, his wife gave them a state­ment this week af­ter walk­ing into the U.S. Em­bassy in the United Arab Emi­rates.

The wife has re­turned to the United States, a law en­force­ment of­fi­cial said. She’s be­lieved to have left the U.S. for over­seas in June. In­ves­ti­ga­tors have not sug­gested that she’s sus­pected of any wrong­do­ing.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors also have been look­ing into Ra­hami’s over­seas travel, in­clud­ing a visit to Pak­istan a few years ago, and want to know whether he re­ceived money or train­ing from ex­trem­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Ra­hami and his broth­ers spent time with their grand­fa­ther in Afghanistan in 2012, their father said.

A neigh­bor on the fam­ily’s block in El­iz­a­beth said Thursday that the father had hoped the trip would nur­ture more dis­ci­pline in the sons and when they re­turned they seemed more re­li­gious.

“They said, ‘Yeah, you know, we went back to our roots,’” said the neigh­bor, Jaime Reyes.

The bomb­ings in Sea­side Park and Man­hat­tan spurred a man­hunt that ended Mon­day in Lin­den. Pa­trol­man An­gel Padilla said he tried to roust a man sleep­ing in a door­way and rec­og­nized Ra­hami’s face from a pub­lic alert hours be­fore.

Au­thor­i­ties say Ra­hami shot Padilla in his pro­tec­tive vest be­fore other of­fi­cers ex­changed gun­fire with Ra­hami and sub­dued him.

Padilla told stu­dents Thursday at a Lin­den school that he was “a bit ner­vous” when he con­fronted Ra­hami, but “I can only say: I was just do­ing my job.”

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