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Press Release

Chelsea Bomber Ahmad Khan Rahimi Sentenced To Life In Prison For Executing September 2016 Bombing And Attempted Bombing In New York City

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Edward C. O’Callaghan, the Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security, William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (“FBI”), and James P. O’Neill, Commissioner of the Police Department for the City of New York (“NYPD”), announced today that AHMAD KHAN RAHIMI, a/k/a “Ahmad Rahami,” was sentenced to life in prison for his execution and attempted execution of bombings in New York City on September 17, 2016.  RAHIMI was convicted on October 16, 2017, following a two-week jury trial before U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman, who also imposed today’s sentence.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Inspired by ISIS and al Qaeda, Ahmad Khan Rahimi planted and detonated bombs on the streets of Chelsea, and in New Jersey, intending to kill and maim as many innocent people as possible.  Less than a year-and-a-half after his attacks, Rahimi has now been tried, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison.  Rahimi’s conviction and sentencing are victories for New York City and our nation in the fight against terror.”

Acting Assistant Attorney General Edward C. O’Callaghan said:  “Today our legal system delivered on its promise to provide swift and resolute justice to those who would target innocent victims by perpetrating terrorist attacks against our homeland.  I commend all of the agents, analysts, and prosecutors whose commitment and dedication made this result possible.”

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “Today’s sentencing assures us that Ahmad Khan Rahimi will spend the rest of his life behind bars.  Once again, the lesson learned is clear: if you plot to cause catastrophic damage against this city and our citizens, you will be held accountable.  I would like to thank the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces here in New York and New Jersey, along with many other law enforcement partners, who moved with speed in this investigation and who work every day to protect Americans from acts of terror.  I would also like to express my gratitude to the public who remained engaged throughout this investigation.  That partnership and the public's continued cooperation are crucial to ensuring we stay ahead of threats, and enhance law enforcement's response following attacks like this.”

Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill said:  “Ahmed Kahn Rahimi placed two ticking bombs in a crowded Manhattan neighborhood on a warm Saturday night.  He then walked away.  It was the most cowardly of all crimes.  His clear intention was to take as many lives as possible.  Rahimi had other bombs and likely other plans.  I want to thank the NYPD officers who responded that night, the agents and NYPD detectives of the JTTF, the NYPD Intelligence Bureau, Detective Bureau, Bomb Squad, ATF Agents, and the officers of the Linden New Jersey Police Department who all had important contributions in the investigation and arrest.  I also want to thank the prosecutors of the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the most experienced terrorism prosecutors in the nation for bringing New Yorkers justice.”

According to the Complaint, the Indictment, other filings in Manhattan federal court, evidence at trial, and statements made in court proceedings:

On September 17, 2016, RAHIMI transported two improvised explosive devices from New Jersey to New York, New York.  RAHIMI placed one of the devices in the vicinity of 135 West 23rd Street in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York, New York (the “23rd Street Bomb”) and the other in the vicinity of 131 West 27th Street in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York, New York (the “27th Street Bomb”). 

At approximately 8:30 p.m., the 23rd Street Bomb – containing a high explosive main charge and thousands of ball bearings – detonated, causing injuries to over 30 people and hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage across a 650-foot crime scene.  The injuries included, among other things, lacerations to the face, abdomen, legs, and arms caused by flying glass; metal shrapnel and fragmentation embedded in skin and bone; and various head injuries.  The explosive components appear to have been placed inside a pressure cooker and left near a dumpster.  The explosion propelled a more-than-100-pound dumpster – which was introduced as an exhibit at trial – more than 120 feet.  The blast shattered windows as far as approximately 400 feet from the blast site and, vertically, more than three stories high.  

Shortly after the 23rd Street Bomb detonated, a civilian identified the 27th Street Bomb and promptly called 911, which recorded call was introduced in evidence and played at trial.  The 27th Street Bomb, which was rendered safe prior to detonation, consisted of, among other things, a pressure cooker connected with wires to a cellular telephone (likely to function as a timer) and packaged with an explosive main charge, ball bearings, and steel nuts. 

Earlier that day, at approximately 9:35 a.m. on September 17, 2016, another improvised explosive device, which had been planted by RAHIMI in the early morning hours, detonated in the vicinity of Seaside Park, New Jersey, along the route for the Seaside Semper Five Marine Corps Charity 5K race.  The start of the race – which was scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. – was delayed.  Had the race started on time, the bomb would have detonated as runners were passing by where RAHIMI had planted it. 

On September 18, 2016, at approximately 8:40 p.m., six additional improvised explosive devices that RAHIMI also planted were found inside a backpack located at the entrance to the New Jersey Transit station in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  One of these devices detonated as law enforcement used a robot to defuse it.

On September 19, 2016, at approximately 9:30 a.m., RAHIMI was arrested by police in Linden, New Jersey.  RAHIMI fired multiple shots at police, striking and injuring multiple police officers before he was himself shot, subdued, and placed under arrest.  In the course of RAHIMI’s arrest, a handwritten journal was recovered from RAHIMI’s person.  Written in the journal were, among other things, mentions of explosive devices (including “The sounds of bombs will be heard in the streets” and “Bombs set off in the streets they plan to run a mile”),  and laudatory references to Usama Bin Laden, the former leader of al Qaeda, Anwar al-Awlaki, a former senior leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Mohammed al-Adnani, a former senior leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham, and Nidal Hasan, who shot and killed 13 people in Foot Hood, Texas.

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In addition to the prison term, RAHIMI, 30, was sentenced to five years of supervised release and ordered to pay $562,803 in restitution.

In addition to the charges for which he was sentenced in Manhattan federal court, RAHIMI also has been charged in a Complaint in the District of New Jersey with offenses in connection with his alleged efforts to detonate explosives in Seaside Park, New Jersey, and Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which principally consists of agents from the FBI and detectives from the New York City Police Department, and the 13th Precinct of the NYPD.  Mr. Berman also thanked the Counterterrorism Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division for its assistance.

The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Emil J. Bove III, Andrew J. DeFilippis, and Shawn G. Crowley are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney Brian Morgan of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

Updated February 13, 2018

Press Release Number: 18-048