ELIZABETH, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Authorities are still trying to unravel the mystery that is the bombing suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami as investigators are taking a closer look at his actions and possible motivations as a New Jersey congressman revealed Rahami contacted his office previously to get his wife a visa.
CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco reported FBI agents carried boxes out of Rahami’s Elizabeth, New Jersey, home on Monday. They also searched the chicken restaurant Rahami owned with his family – the First American Fried Chicken.
The restaurant was in trouble previously as neighbors complained about late operating hours. In 2011, the family files a lawsuit against Elizabeth, claiming their shop hours were restricted because they were Muslim. The suit was dropped a year later.
Rahami’s father and other family members returned to the home during the investigation. With the street blocked off for most of the day, some couldn’t believe Rahami could be responsible for the bombings in Chelsea, Seaside Park and Elizabeth.
“He’s very friendly. He’s a nice guy, you never suspect anything like this,” one person said.
Others, however, had their suspicions.
“People would probably tell you they’re always uptight, kind of,” one person said.
Another said, “Very secretive, a little mysterious.”
CBS2’s Valerie Castro reported that Rahami’s former classmates said he attended high school in Edison where he seemed to blend into the crowd, graduating in 2007.
“If you wanted him to be invisible, he was invisible. He dressed nice. He didn’t speak much. He wasn’t the center of attention, but when he did speak, he was funny,” former Edison High School classmate Chris Konya said.
Rahami, who was originally from Afghanistan, is a naturalized American citizen. U.S. officials told CBS News that Rahami traveled to Afghanistan at least once recently, and three times total. The most recent trip is believed to have taken in 2014.
Law enforcement sources told CBS News Rahami also traveled to Pakistan during one of his trips to Afghanistan.
Rep. Albio Sires, D-N.J., told CBS News Rahami contacted his office from Pakistan in 2014 in hopes to get his pregnant wife a visa.
Sires said his office wrote a letter to the U.S. embassy in Pakistan to check on the status of the case and the woman eventually received a visa. He said he didn’t know if she ever came to the country, and the FBI didn’t answer when asked on Monday.
“One story is that he had a wife in Pakistan, he was very upset that he couldn’t bring his wife back,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “Another theory is that he was much more upset about the lawsuit with the government where they closed down the family restaurant, which caused hardship to the entire family.”
Investigators will try to determine who he met while he was overseas.
“Who else is working with you? What training did you receive? What resources did you receive? Why did you do this,” former FBI agent Manny Gomez told CBS2 about the questions Rahami will get. “That all goes to motive. It goes to is it a terrorist act, which I believe it is.”
Neighbors said Rahami’s demeanor changed and he seemed to be more religious after returning from overseas.
Gomez said while the FBI does not use enhanced interrogation techniques, they may offer him a deal to get as much information as they can.
“Offer a deal to his family or try to offer him a different leverage: ‘Listen, you’re gonna spend the rest of your days in jail, come clean. You don’t wanna pay for the whole price of what you did and this crime if other people are involved,’” Gomez said.
Rahami was a student at a local community college from 2010 to 2012 where he studied criminal justice.
Rahami has been ordered held on $5.2 million bail after being charged with five counts of attempted murder.
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