Prosecutors: NJ bomber tried to radicalize inmates

Prosecutors said Ahmad Khan Rahimi, who injured 30 people in a Manhattan bombing in 2016, promoted his extremist ideology to other prisoners


By Larry Neumeister
Associated Press

NEW YORK — An unrepentant New Jersey man who injured 30 people in a Manhattan bombing and then promoted his extremist ideology to other prisoners deserves the mandatory life in prison as required by his conviction, prosecutors told a judge on Tuesday.

The government said Afghanistan-born Ahmad Khan Rahimi carried out bombings in New Jersey and New York City on Sept. 17, 2016, after following the propaganda of Osama bin Laden and groups including the Islamic State and al-Qaida.

In this Dec. 20, 2016 file photo, Ahmad Khan Rahimi, the man accused of setting off bombs in New Jersey and New York's Chelsea neighborhood in September, sits in court in Elizabeth, N.J. Prosecutors are urging a judge to impose a life sentence on Rahimi. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)
In this Dec. 20, 2016 file photo, Ahmad Khan Rahimi, the man accused of setting off bombs in New Jersey and New York's Chelsea neighborhood in September, sits in court in Elizabeth, N.J. Prosecutors are urging a judge to impose a life sentence on Rahimi. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

"Since his arrest and conviction, the defendant has failed to show remorse for his crimes, and has instead attempted to radicalize his fellow inmates and made light of his attacks," prosecutors wrote in a submission to Judge Richard M. Berman, who is scheduled to sentence Rahimi on Feb. 13.

The government said Rahimi began researching extremist ideology in 2012 and sent family members speeches by Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born cleric who inspired attacks on America and was killed in a U.S. airstrike in September 2011. It said he also collected online videos depicting and calling for attacks. One video was titled: "It's Time For a Beheading." Another: "Muslim beheading Christian."

Prosecutors said Rahimi began attempting to radicalize other inmates at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in October, the same month he was convicted in Manhattan federal court of multiple charges.

They said he provided inmates with speeches and lectures by bin Laden and al-Awlaki along with "The Book of Jihad," bomb-making instructions and various issues of a propaganda magazine.

Prosecutors said Rahimi, 29, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, let inmates view the materials on his laptop and gave them electronic copies, including to an inmate facing charges that he provided material support and resources to the Islamic State.

"As the evidence at trial demonstrated, the defendant was committed to waging his holy war against Americans years before he carried out his attack. Even today, he appears to remain steadfast in that commitment and has shown no remorse," prosecutors said. "The defendant's communications while incarcerated further demonstrate that, far from appreciating the depravity of his actions, he is proud of what he did, scornful of the American justice system, and as dedicated as ever to his terrorist ideology."

The government also said Rahimi joked in a phone call with a family member during his trial that his mother was complaining that she had no pressure cookers after he used two pressure cooker-type bombs in Manhattan, only one of which went off.

"His conduct reflects a complete lack of respect for the law and indicates that he has not been deterred, but rather emboldened," prosecutors wrote.

Rahimi's bombing in the Chelsea section of Manhattan came hours after he set off a pipe bomb along a Marine Corps charity race in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. No one was injured in that blast. Rahimi was arrested two days later in a shootout with police.

His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Associated Press
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