Accused Chelsea bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami has remained mostly unconscious since he was wounded in a Monday shootout with police, preventing federal agents from questioning him, authorities said Thursday.
Also Thursday, the Elizabeth, New Jersey, man’s father provided more details about his sons interest in international terror groups and new footage surfaced showing two men picking up a bag investigators said Rahami left in Manhattan on Saturday night.
Rahami, 38, faces a range of federal charges in connection with the bombings Saturday in Manhattan and Seaside Park, New Jersey.
He, also faces charges of attempted murder of a police officer after the Monday morning gunfight in New Jersey with Linden police officers.
Authorities told The Associated Press on Thursday that the severity of Rahami’s injuries in the shootout — in which police said he shot and wounded a Linden officer — have kept investigators from interviewing him.
His injuries did not prevent federal public defenders from asking a magistrate to allow him to be brought to federal court and be given a lawyer.
Wednesday night, a federal magistrate in Manhattan denied the request. In his order, U.S. Magistrate Gabriel Gorenstein, said Rahami did not need to be brought to federal court because New Jersey police arrested him and he was not entitled to a lawyer on the federal charges because he isn’t in federal custody.
David Patton, the chief federal defender in Manhattan, had argued that it was improper to hold and question him without a court appearance and without a lawyer.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Wednesday that his office had asked U.S. marshals to bring Rahami to federal court, subject to his medical condition and other factors. No immediate court appearance or lawyer was required because he is in custody on New Jersey charges, Bharara said.
Gorenstein sided with the government. “Whether there are federal authorities questioning defendant does not address the issue of custody,” he wrote in his brief two-page order.
“At this point, the Court has no evidence whatsoever from anyone with personal knowledge that the defendant is being detained by any federal officer,” he added. “Accordingly, this Court lacks authority to appoint counsel.”
Tuesday, the FBI revealed that Rahami’s father, Mohammad Rahami told agents two years ago he suspected his son was a terrorist. In an interview Thursday with The New York Times, he said he warned agents his son was watching al-Qaida and Taliban videos. FBI officials said agents found nothing tying the younger Rahami to terrorism.
WCBS reported Thursday that investigators suspect Rahami had cased the Chelsea location two days before the blast while WNBC showed new video of two men picking up a travel bag Saturday night on West 27th Street that investigators said contained an explosive device left by Rahami.
The NYPD has said they don’t consider the two men suspects but want to speak with them and inspect the piece of luggage for possible evidence. The footage shows two men removing the device and walking off with the travel bag.
Some time later three men walk by and one of them kicks the device.
Prosecutors allege that Rahami bought bomb materials including timers, explosive precursors and ball bearings on eBay over the summer, and may have conducted a practice explosion in a family member’s Elizabeth, New Jersey, backyard two days before the Chelsea bombings.
They also allege that when he was arrested after the Linden gunfight he had a handwritten journal whose last entry included a coda of sorts: “The sounds of the bombs will be heard in the streets. Gun shots to your police. Death to your OPPRESSION.”