So when the 28-year-old Afghan immigrant was apprehended Monday as the lead person of interest in bombings in NY and New Jersey, those who knew him expressed shock, questioning whether his turn to religiosity in recent years might have hinted at views otherwise kept hidden.
Law-enforcement officials said investigators found a bloodstained notebook when he was arrested after a shootout with police in Linden, N.J., on Monday.
Police in New York City said they had not yet been permitted by doctors to speak to Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, who was arrested on Monday after being wounded in a gunfight with police in Linden, New Jersey. "Thank you to our first responders who have performed with extraordinary skill and courage over the past two days".
Then a shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bomb exploded on Saturday night in New York's Chelsea section, wounding 29 people, none seriously.
In 2011, the Rahami family filed a lawsuit against the city of Elizabeth and local police, accusing them of discrimination in forcing the chicken restaurant to close by 10:00 pm.
Officials said they have no other suspects at large but cautioned they are still investigating.
Authorities also continued to probe Tuesday to see whether Rahami, a naturalized USA citizen who was born in Afghanistan, acted alone or had any help.
New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill said police will focus on other parts of the investigation including whether or not he worked alone and what his motivations were.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch says the Justice Department intends in the "near future" to bring Ahmad Khan Rahami to NY to face charges in a Saturday night bombing there.
Video footage reviewed by investigators captured two men picking up a bag that contained the device, removing the pressure cooker and leaving with the bag, said Robert Boyce, chief of detectives for the NY police.
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NY police believed that Rahami is the man who appears in videos taken by security cameras on 23rd Street in the Chelsea neighbourhood of Lower Manhattan, where on Saturday a bomb exploded that injured nearly 30 people on 27th Street, and where another device was found that did not detonate.
The FBI has said Rahami apparently was not on its radar at the time of the bombing. Fingerprints also matched the materials found there to Rahami, the complaints said. The officer, Angel Padilla, returned fire, hitting Rahami in the shoulder and leg, Armstead said.
Kang reported from Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Also speaking, Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage told reporters at a news conference in New Jersey two officers were injured while apprehending Rahami.
Rahami, a U.S. citizen born in Afghanistan, remained in hospital after surgery for a gunshot wound to his leg.
NEW YORK (AP) - The FBI looked into New York bombing suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami two years ago - and came up empty-handed - after his father expressed concerns his son might be a terrorist, law enforcement officials said Tuesday. The documents also indicate that a diary, which authorities say is Rahami's, refers to calls for jihad at home if one is unable to travel and mentions "brother Osama Bin Laden".
Authorities investigating the bombings in NY and New Jersey on Saturday say there is still significant ground to cover in learning how the one-time college student allegedly built the makeshift explosives and planned the targets in Manhattan and a beach town in New Jersey. The charges include using weapons of mass destruction and bombing a place of public use, according to the Washington Post, the New York Times and a press release.
One focus is on trips he took to Pakistan and Afghanistan. No one was injured.
"[There's] no indication that there is cell operating in the area or the city", William Sweeney, FBI special agent for NY said.
Andre Almeida, a customer at the restaurant for the past eight years, said he noticed when Rahami stopped wearing Western clothes after returning from Afghanistan and started wearing "a little more ethnic clothing".