The father of Ahmad Khan Rahami, who investigators suspect was responsible for the bombings in Chelsea and NJ over the weekend, called police in 2014 to tell them his son was a terrorist. The NY Times reports that Mohammad Rahami made the statement when his son was arrested for allegedly punching his sister and stabbing his brother during a domestic dispute.
The father later recanted his statement, Rahami spent three months in jail for the incident, and a grand jury declined to indict him on other charges. NBC reports on what exactly happened:
Federal investigators interviewed Mohammad Rahami in 2014 after a neighbor heard the father scream, "You are a terrorist!" at his son, who had just allegedly punched his sister and stabbed his brother in the leg during a fight, senior law enforcement officials tell NBC News. The neighbor called police, and police told counter-terrorism officials, who questioned the father and relatives.
The father said he had made the comment out of anger and denied feeling as if his son were a terrorist or in any way radicalized, the officials told NBC News. Mohammad Rahami admitted his son was hanging out with a bad crowd, but described his friends as drinkers and thugs, the officials told NBC News. The FBI interviewed Rahami again later and the father reiterated his statements. The FBI conducted additional interviews and found no indication of terrorism.
Mohammad confirmed the report to the press after closing up his Elizabeth, NJ restaurant, First American Fried Chicken: “Yes, I called the FBI,” he said. Asked whether he thinks his son is a terrorist now, he responded, "No...the FBI know that." Asked by NBC whether he knew what his son was planning, he said, "No. No idea."
Rahami's sister, the one he allegedly punched during the 2014 incident, is currently studying at Rutgers, and wrote on Facebook, "I would like people to respect my family’s privacy and let us have our peace after this tragic time. I would not like to answer any questions."
According to reports, both Rahami's wife, whose name hasn't been released, and his mother left the country for the Middle East shortly before the attacks. Rahami's wife was intercepted by authorities in the United Arab Emirates before she made it to Pakistan, and is being questioned about whether she knew anything about his plans. "We are looking into who may have helped him in training, with money” and with other means, a source told the Post, adding that Rahami was not cooperating. "His family is being looked at, too."
Cops also say that they recovered a notebook which Rahami had on his person when he was captured Monday. An anonymous official tells the Times that the book contained writings sympathetic to jihadist causes: "In one section of the book, which was pierced by a bullethole and covered in blood, Mr. Rahami wrote of 'killing the kuffar,' or unbeliever," according to the source.
Rahami has been charged with five counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, and is being held on $5.2 million bail. A naturalized citizen from Afghanistan, he lived in Elizabeth, NJ above his family's fried chicken restaurant (where he also worked). He was known as a "nice guy" who would give free chicken to customers. However, some say that he changed after visiting Afghanistan a few years ago: "It’s like he was a completely different person. He got serious and completely closed off."