NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A federal jury convicted a New Jersey man of planting two pressure cooker bombs on New York City streets, including one that injured 30 people when it detonated late last summer.
Jurors in Manhattan on Monday found 29-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahimi guilty of all eights charges against him, including using a weapon of mass destruction and bombing a public place. The verdict came after a two-week trial.
The Afghanistan-born man living in Elizabeth faces a maximum punishment of life in prison.
“Rahimi’s crimes of hate have been met with swift and resolute justice,” Acting U.S. Attorny Joon Kim said. “Today’s verdict is a victory for New York City, a victory for America in its fight against terror, and a victory for all who believe in the cause of justice.”
“The Chelsea bombing was an attempt to bring our city to its knees. Instead, our NYPD, FBI and federal prosecutors have brought Ahmad Rahimi to justice,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “His evil was met with the bravery and resiliency of a beautiful neighborhood and an entire city. New York City will never be intimidated. We remain vigilant, resolute and safe. Congratulations to all those involved in this important prosecution.”
The defense said it will appeal.
Rahimi was charged with setting off a bomb on West 23rd Street in Chelsea on Sept. 17, 2016, that injured 30 people and planting another bomb four blocks away that did not go off.
Prosecutors said a pipe bomb he placed along a charity race in Seaside Park, New Jersey, was part of his plan to kill Americans with weapons of mass destruction. The New Jersey bomb did not injure anyone, in part because the race was delayed by late entrants.
Rahimi pleaded not guilty after his arrest two days after the September 2016 attacks following a shootout with police in Linden that left him hospitalized for weeks. He had been held without bail since his arrest.
Prosecutors said Rahimi was inspired by the Islamic State group and al Qaeda to plan the bombings after he began following terrorist propaganda in 2012.
“He had fallen for the false narratives of groups like ISIS and al Qaeda that dictate it’s alright to slaughter innocents in the name of some cause that even he doesn’t seem to understand,” said NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller.
Jurors were shown dozens of videos that captured Rahimi walking the streets of Manhattan to where each of the bombs was placed. Prosecutors said he paused three times along the way because the bombs contained timers and he needed to meet the schedule he had set.
The prosecution said evidence including videotapes, witnesses and Rahimi’s fingerprints left no question of his responsibility, but the defense had urged the jury to keep an open mind calling the government’s evidence flawed.
Cort Cheek was in his wheelchair outside his building when the bomb exploded, just yards away. He described it as an “end of the world kind of doomsday sound.”
He testified at the Rahimi trial, and isn’t surprised the jury returned a guilty verdict.
“I’m glad that he’ll be put away and we’re a little safer,” he told CBS2’s Tony Aiello. “One less lunatic who doesn’t care about hurting other people.”
Rahimi’s family told CBS2’s Ali Bauman that Ahmad’s interest in terrorist groups started years ago and that they tried to warn the FBI, tried kicking him out of the house, and ultimately agreed with the verdict.
“This is my land, this is my home, and something happened in my home. I’m very upset,” Mohammad Rahimi said, “He got three kids, young wife, mother, father, whole family, everybody. You think your brother, your son this happened, how would you feel?”
“He was misguided, didn’t know what to do with his life,” is brother said, “Something in his head flicked and he lost it.”
Rahimi chose not to testify in his trial, but earlier this month he was removed from court after he tried to stand up and speak while prosecutors were starting their opening statements.
Rahimi sat quietly, wringing his hands and wearing a wrinkled shirt, as the verdict was read Monday morning.
He faces further state and federal charges in New Jersey, including attempted murder of a police officer.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)