By Sabrina Garone
On Saturday, Sept. 17, a bomb inside of a dumpster exploded in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood, injuring 31 people.
A pressure cooker bomb was found within a few blocks of the initial explosion and was safely removed by the New York Police Department.
“It’s scary to think that I was just in that area three days before volunteering at New York Fashion Week,” says junior and Westchester, N.Y. resident Briana Andreoli. “My generation doesn’t remember what it’s like to live in a pre 9/11 world, so terror is something that’s always in the back of my mind when traveling to the city.”
On the same day as the Chelsea explosion, a pipe-bomb inside of a garbage can exploded at the start of a Marine Corps 5K charity event in Seaside Park, NJ.
No one involved in the event was injured due to a delay at the start of the race.
The next day, a bag containing five explosive devices was discovered outside of a train station in Elizabeth, NJ.
“I was in New York City on that day visiting a friend at Fordham University,” said junior and New Jersey resident Rachel Zacharczyk. “We did a lot of traveling around the city that day, so we were constantly checking our phones for updates on the situation and felt very lucky to have gotten to our destination safely.”
Authorities believe Ahmad Khan Rahami is the main suspect behind these explosions. According to officials, Rahami was identified by fingerprints found on the pressure cooker.and also by a cell phone that had been attached.
Rahami was shot and injured in a standoff with police after he was found sleeping in the doorway of a bar in Linden, NJ. He was later taken into custody. Authorities are currently investigating whether Rahami had any ties to terror organizations such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) or Al Qaeda.
The 28-year-old was born in Afghanistan and according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), has been a naturalized citizen of the United States since 2011.
Rahami studied criminal justice at the Middlesex County College in Edison, NJ, but never graduated.
In 2014, Rahami’s father noticed his son had taken an interest in jihadist music, poetry and videos of terror on the internet after multiple visits to Afghanistan and Pakistan. In August of that year, Rahami was arrested for stabbing his own brother during a family dispute.
According to the New York Times, Rahami’s father reported him to the FBI, describing him as a terrorist and asking them to keep an eye on him.
According to officials, Rahami was never placed in the FBI database as a potential terrorist threat.
“Going forward, law enforcement must always remain vigilant, especially within residential neighborhoods we would normally think are insulated from these types of incidents,” said criminal justice professor and former NYPD Lieutenant Anthony Papa. “A common procedure to prevent these types of attacks in NYC is the process of removing all trashcans and mailboxes from the route of an event prior to its commencement. I would suggest law enforcement to engage in this policy effective immediately.”
These bombings are still under investigation.