NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The FBI has released an image of two men who are believed to have taken a suitcase that was holding an unexploded pressure cooker bomb found blocks away from the Chelsea blast that left 31 people hurt.
The FBI issued a poster Wednesday showing “two unidentified individuals” who investigators want to talk to.
The agency says the image of the two men was captured on closed circuit television recordings between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday on West 27th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues.
The men were seen removing the bomb from a piece of luggage then leaving the device behind while taking the suitcase, the FBI said.
As 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported, investigators have said the two men are being sought as witnesses, not suspects.
“We know that the device, that device on 27th Street was placed there sometime just after 8:30 p.m., and shortly thereafter these individuals came by and took the bag,” NYPD Counterterrorism Chief James Waters said.
He said security video along the street was able to track them up to a certain point, it was not revealed how far along and the luggage has not been recovered.
The men can go down to a precinct or call 911, police officials told WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb.
Justice Dept. Wants To Bring Rahami To NYC Soon
Federal terrorism charges were filed against bombing suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami on Tuesday night in connection with bombings in New York and New Jersey. He also faces state charges in New Jersey of attempting to murder police officers.
Rahami, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Afghanistan, remains hospitalized with gunshot wounds from a shootout with police that led to his capture Monday outside a bar in Linden, New Jersey.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the Justice Department intends in the “near future” to bring Rahami to New York to face charges there.
Lynch spoke Wednesday at an International Bar Association conference. She said she has full confidence in prosecutors’ ability to bring Rahami “to justice for his heinous actions.”
She said the charges reflect the Justice Department’s “unwavering determination to finding, capturing and prosecuting all those who attempt to commit or commit acts of terror against our nation.”
But a federal defender is complaining that Rahami has not had access to a lawyer since he was arrested.
David E. Patton said in a letter to a federal judge Tuesday night that Rahami has been held and questioned by federal law enforcement agents since his arrest.
Patton said his office is available to meet with Rahami in New Jersey and represent him at a telephone or videoconference appearance.
Court Papers Reveal New Details
Meanwhile, federal court papers are giving a chilling glimpse into what authorities say motivated Rahami. The criminal complaint was unsealed Tuesday in Newark shortly after a virtually identical filing was unsealed in New York.
In the complaints, prosecutors said Rahami ordered citric acid, ball bearings and electronic igniters on eBay and had them delivered to a Perth Amboy, New Jersey, business where he worked until Sept. 12.
San Jose, California-based eBay Inc. noted that the products are legal and widely available and said the company had worked with law enforcement on the investigation.
Just two days before Saturday’s bombings in Seaside Park, New Jersey and on West 23rd Street in Chelsea, a relative’s cell phone recorded Rahami igniting incendiary material in a cylinder buried in a backyard, the fuse being lighted, a loud noise and flames, “followed by billowing smoke and laughter,” the complaints said.
The complaints said investigators found Rahami’s fingerprints on another unexploded pressure cooker bomb that was discovered on West 27th Street and on a backpack that contained improvised explosive devices at the Elizabeth train station.
Surveillance video also placed Rahami at both locations in the city, the complaints said.
And the complaints said in his bloodied journal, damaged by shots from his gun battle with police, he fumed that the U.S. government was slaughtering Muslim holy warriors and alluded to plans for revenge.
One portion expressed concern at the prospect of being caught before being able to carry out a suicide attack and the desire to be a martyr.
Another section included a reference to “pipe bombs” and a “pressure cooker bomb” and declared: “In the streets they plan to run a mile,” an apparent reference to one of the blast sites, a charity run in Seaside Park.
“The sounds of bombs will be heard in the streets,” the journal declared.
There also were laudatory references to Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born Muslim cleric who was killed in a 2011 drone strike and whose preaching has inspired other acts of violence, and Nidal Hasan, the former Army officer who went on a deadly shooting rampage in 2009 at Fort Hood, Texas, the complaints said.
Rahami’s journal ended with a stark message, according to court papers: “Death to your oppression.”
The FBI has said Rahami apparently was not on its radar at the time of the bombing. But he was in 2014, when the FBI opened up an “assessment” — its least intrusive form of inquiry — based on comments from his father after a domestic dispute, the bureau said in a statement.
“The FBI conducted internal database reviews, interagency checks and multiple interviews, none of which revealed ties to terrorism,” the bureau said.
Rahami’s father, Mohammad, told reporters Tuesday he called the FBI at the time because Rahami “was doing real bad,” having stabbed his brother and hit his mother. Rahami was not prosecuted in the stabbing; a grand jury declined to indict him.
“But they checked, almost two months, and they say, ‘He’s OK, he’s clear, he’s not terrorist.’ Now they say he’s a terrorist,” the father said outside the family’s fried-chicken restaurant in Elizabeth. Asked whether he thought his son was a terrorist, he said: “No. And the FBI, they know that.”
But the FBI said the father didn’t call. They said a neighbor did after hearing the elder Rahami call his son “a terrorist” during the domestic dispute.
The father said then it was an insult, not an accusation.
Miller: Bomb Suspect Like Many Others
NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller said federal investigators are likely reviewing their previous contacts Rahami, but said it does not appear that anything was missed.
Testifying Wednesday in front of the House Homeland Security Committee, he said Rahami “seems like many suspects who come into contact with the system at various times” and was handled “to the extent — that law would allow.”
Miller said a single report that does not generate more information about a potential threat or crime would not allow authorities to follow or investigate a person or their associates indefinitely.
At the hearing Committee Chairman Mike McCaul talked about Rahami’s writings as he held up a copy of the bloody journal. He said what was included in the writings was “Precisely, I think, the evolving threat that we’re facing.”
The FBI believes Rahami acted alone and so far, there are no links to any terror groups, WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported.
Investigators are looking into Rahami’s overseas travel, including a visit to Pakistan a few years ago, and want to know whether he received any money or training from extremist organizations.
A law enforcement source confirmed to CBS News senior investigative producer Pat Milton that the name of Ahmad Rahami’s wife is Asia Bibi Rahami. She was born in 1991 in Kabul, Afghanistan.
On a trip to Pakistan in 2014, Rahami emailed his local congressman seeking help because his pregnant wife had an expired passport.
She has been in contact with authorities and sources told CBS News she is cooperating.
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