New York and New Jersey explosive devices: what we know

A breakdown of latest events as suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami is captured in connection with bomb in Chelsea and five devices found in New Jersey

There have been fast-moving developments following Saturday night’s explosion in Manhattan. Here is a breakdown of the latest key events:

New York

  • Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, a suspect in the Manhattan bombing and the pipe bomb in Seaside Park, New Jersey, on Saturday, is now in custody after engaging in a shootout with police in Linden, New Jersey, local law enforcement officials confirmed to the Guardian. Two officers were shot, but their wounds are not life-threatening. Three officers were taken to the hospital, Captain James Sarnicki of Linden police said. Rahami, who was found sleeping in a bar hallway before his eventual arrest, was wounded in the shootout and is undergoing surgery for his injuries.
  • Rahami was directly linked to the bombings in New York and New Jersey, the FBI said. He has yet to be charged, but will be later on Monday.
  • The NYPD on Monday morning said it was seeking Rahami in connection with the bombing on Saturday in Manhattan, which injured 29 people. New Jersey state police said he was also wanted for questioning over the pipe bomb that detonated in Seaside Park on Saturday, without injuries. Rahami was born in Afghanistan, lives in New Jersey and is a naturalised US citizen.
  • Fingerprints recovered at the scene and surveillance video in New York helped law enforcement identify Rahami as a suspect, an official told the Associated Press. He was not on a terror or no-fly watch list, the official said.
  • New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said the bombing was an act of terrorism.
  • The explosive device used in the bombing on West 23rd Street, and a second unexploded device found nearby were made from pressure cookers, a mobile “flip” phone and Christmas lights, law enforcement sources told the New York Times.
  • Tannerite, which is used in target practice and is readily available in sporting goods stores, was the explosive used in the West 23rd Street device, federal officials said. It is also suspected to have been used in the unexploded device found nearby.
  • On Sunday night, FBI agents stopped “a vehicle of interest in the investigation” into the Manhattan explosion, according to an FBI spokeswoman, Kelly Langmesser. A government official and a law enforcement official who were briefed on the investigation told the Associated Press that the five people in the car were being questioned at an FBI building in lower Manhattan. No one in that car was under arrest, FBI agent Bill Sweeney later said in a press conference. An official later said the car was associated with Rahami, had three men and two women inside and appeared to be heading toward the airport, according to the Associated Press.
  • NYPD are hoping to find two men who stole the bag that contained the second unexploded device on Saturday, though only “as witnesses”, the NYPD chief of detectives, Robert Boyce, said.

New Jersey

  • Five suspicious devices were found on Sunday night in a backpack in a bin near Elizabeth station in New Jersey.
  • One exploded as a bomb squad robot tried to disarm it, the local mayor, Christian Bollwage, said.
  • The FBI and police were attempting to disarm the other devices, he was reported as saying.
  • Train services from Elizabeth on the New Jersey transit system were suspended in both directions.
  • In a separate incident, a pipe bomb exploded in the Jersey Shore town of Seaside Park on Saturday morning, shortly before thousands of runners were due to take part in a charity 5,000m race to benefit US marines and sailors. There were no injuries.
  • The bomb that exploded in Seaside Park was constructed with a threaded pipe and black powder, officials told the Associated Press. Like the bomb used in Chelsea, it also used a flip-phone.
  • New Jersey state police said in a statement posted to Facebook that they wanted to question Rahami about the pipe bomb explosion in Seaside Park.
  • Investigators searched the Rahami family’s fried chicken restaurant, First American Fried Chicken, in Elizabeth, which Mayor Chris Bollwage said had been a problem for the city. The Rahami family lost a court battle with the city over the restaurant, whose neighbors had complained about noise, loitering and litter during its late-night hours. City records indicated complaints by authorities and the family about their interactions, and one of Rahami’s brothers pleaded guilty at one point to preventing police from enforcing a city ordinance. Rahami was not involved in the suit.
  • Bankruptcy court documents showed the family struggled with money, filing for bankruptcy in 2005. The family immigrated from Afghanistan in 1995, when Rahami was seven years old, and he later became a naturalized US citizen.
  • Regulars at the restaurant described Rahami as a friendly person who did not express extremist beliefs.
New York bombings map

General developments

  • Investigators are looking into possible links between the incidents in New York and New Jersey.
  • The FBI has said there is no indication of a terror cell, though the investigation is ongoing. Sweeney said only Rahami has been directly linked to the devices in New York and New Jersey. They are not looking for a second suspect at this time.
  • Authorities are trying to establish whether there are any links between the devices and a mass stabbing in St Cloud, Minnesota, on Saturday night. At least nine people were injured in the Minnesota attack before an off-duty police officer shot the suspect dead. Islamic State claimed the attack, but the FBI said no link with the group had been found.
An bomb disposal robot handles an unexploded pressure cooker device on West 27th Street in New York City.
An bomb disposal robot handles an unexploded pressure cooker device on West 27th Street in New York City. Photograph: Lucien Harriot/Getty Images

What we don’t know

  • If the events were linked to international terrorism. New York governor Andrew Cuomo has said there was a possible “foreign connection” behind the Manhattan blast. Islamic State has not claimed responsibility for the explosion in Chelsea or in Seaside Park.
  • If there is a link between the explosive devices found in New York and New Jersey and the mass stabbing in St Cloud, Minnesota on Saturday night. Islamic State claimed the attack in Minnesota.


Jamie Grierson and Martin Farrer

The GuardianTramp

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