A lawyer for accused Chelsea bomber Ahmad Khan Rahimi complained that his medical condition might be too fragile for him to get adequate care in a federal jail as Rahimi made his first appearance on terrorism charges in Manhattan federal court on Thursday.
Federal defender David Patton said that Rahimi, who was transferred by New Jersey authorities into federal custody at 5 a.m., still had an open wound on his leg, a disabled hand and serious liver damage as a result of gunshot wounds suffered during his September arrest, and had experienced repeated infections.
“We have some real concerns about Mr. Rahimi’s medical condition and the ability of the [Metropolitan Correctional Center] to provide adequate medical care,” Patton said.
The bearded Rahimi, 28, had a noticeable limp and didn’t flex his left hand during a brief appearance before U.S. Magistrate Sarah Netburn. Patton said Rahimi had 8 to 10 surgeries since his Sept. 19 arrest, first in University Hospital in Newark and then in the medical wing of a Trenton prison.
The lawyer said the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan doesn’t have a designated medical wing. Prosecutors said the jail had made a “professional judgment” that it could care for him. Netburn set a hearing on the medical issues for Nov. 16.
Rahimi allegedly planted two bombs in Chelsea, one of which injured 31 people when it exploded on 23rd Street last month, and other bombs in the Garden State. He has been charged in a federal complaint in Manhattan with using a weapon of mass destruction and three other bomb-related charges. If convicted he could face up to life in prison.
“For his alleged acts of terror, Rahami will now face justice in a federal courthouse just blocks south of where he allegedly planted his bombs,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement, using an alternative to Rahimi’s preferred spelling for his surname.
Rahimi also has been accused of explosives-related offenses in federal court in Newark, and faces state attempted murder charges in New Jersey stemming from his shootout with police during his capture in Linden, New Jersey. But the Manhattan federal charges are proceeding first.
Patton said after the hearing that after Rahimi is formally indicted in federal court, he will enter a plea of not guilty. He has already pleaded not guilty to the local charges in New Jersey in an arraignment by video from his hospital bed.
Rahimi did not make an application for bail from Netburn. He has been held on $5.2 million bail in New Jersey.