MS Risk Blog

Suspect in New York City and New Jersey Bombings Arrested

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The New York City metropolitan area has long been on high alert for potential terrorist threats. These concerns have further increased over the past several days after terrorist attacks in Manhattan and New Jersey. The situation began on September 17 when an explosion occurred around 9:30am in Seaside Park, New Jersey. The bomb was planted near the route for the Seaside Semper Five run event, an event intended to help U.S. military veterans. The explosion did not cause any injury due to the race start being postponed after a suspicious package was noticed. An extensive search by police discovered two other pipe bomb-like explosives near the race route. Both devices failed to explode, however the race was cancelled due to security concerns. At around 8pm on September 18, 2 homeless men found a suspicious package in a garbage container near Elizabeth train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The men contacted local police, who called in the Federal Bureau of Investigation and New Jersey State Police. Police robots opened the package and discovered 2 pipe bombs, 1 of which exploded destroying the closest robot. The second pipe bomb did not explode and the police disabled it later that evening.

The New York City bombing occurred on the evening of September 17 in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighbourhood at around 8:30pm. In that attack, 29 people were injured, with 24 of those requiring hospitalization. Several hours later and only 4 blocks away, a second device was discovered by New York State Police. A New York Police Department robot later moved the device to an NYPD facility where it was detonated in a controlled explosion. No one was injured by the second device in Manhattan.

 On the evening of September 17, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the Manhattan explosion was intentional. Later reports made it clear that the explosion was being classified as a terrorist attack. Law enforcement investigators later found CCTV footage that showed a bearded man planting both improvised explosive devices in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighbourhood. On September 19, the FBI announced that the man in the footage had been identified as a 28 year-old naturalized U.S. citizen (originally born in Afghanistan) named Ahmad Khan Rahami. The FBI revealed that Rahami was linked with all the devices found in New York City and New Jersey. He had reportedly worked and lived in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Shortly after the announcement, New York City’s Mayor issued a mass emergency alert to cellphone users in New York City and surrounding areas. Rahami was captured in Linden, New Jersey have a multi-agency police operation. During the exchange of gunfire, Rahami was shot in the shoulder and one police offer received a hand injury. Rahami’s exact motivations have not been publically released, but he is now considered the only suspect in the bombings. Rahami was hospitalized and has since been charged with attempted murder and possession of an illegal firearm.

Reflecting the heightened worries about terrorism, New York City has increased its security precautions. 1000 National Guardsmen and New York State Police troopers would be deployed in public areas throughout the city to encourage public confidence. The mass text message alert issued by NYC’s mayor also stands as one of the largest public safety alerts issued through the United States emergency wireless broadcasting system. A great deal of information remains to be publicly released, including whether other people had knowledge of the plot. This includes conflicting reports regarding 5 people arrested by the NYPD on the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn on September 18. None of those individuals have yet be formally charged.

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