September 19, 2016 09:05 PM EDT
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WATCH | New details about the suspect in NYC bombings
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UPDATE 9/20 1:15 p.m.
Ahmad Rahami’s father accused his son of being a terrorist in 2014, but the FBI ultimately found nothing worth placing him on a watch list, USA Today reports. Mohammad Rahami said Tuesday he did not believe his son was a terrorist.
Details are emerging about Ahmad Rahami, the suspect arrested in connection to the New York and New Jersey bombings, and his possible path toward radicalization.
WATCH | Circa’s Sara Carter discussed the attacks on Fox New’s “Hannity.” The discussion starts at the 36:45 mark.
Rahami, who lives in Elizabeth, New Jersey, traveled to Afghanistan on several occasions before plotting to target New York and New Jersey, court documents reveal and law enforcement officials confirm.
It’s believed that when he was there he may have received training to execute lone-wolf acts of terror, like the ones carried out over the weekend.
Rahami, 28, was born in Afghanistan but became a naturalized U.S. citizen as a young boy. He visited Afghanistan and Pakistan numerous times, but he returned from a trip two years ago more radicalized, according to law enforcement officials who spoke with Circa.
Local law enforcement and officials with the Joint Terrorism Task Force are now attempting to unravel Rahami’s recent travel and how he allegedly acquired bomb-making materials.
But his path to radicalization may have started years earlier. According to a 2011 federal lawsuit filed by Rahami, he charged that cops in Elizabeth subjected him and his family to discrimination and “selective enforcement.”
Rahami claimed that police tried to shut down First American Fried Chicken, a restaurant owned by his relatives, with what’s describe as “baseless” tickets and summons.
In addition, court documents show that he and the restaurant had some creditor problem including a bill to N.J. natural gas that remains unpaid. At a press conference on Monday, the mayor of Elizabeth revealed that the city had won the lawsuit and said it had nothing to do with his ethnicity.
It’s unclear of these incidents could prove to be a motive behind Rahami alleged attacks, but officials told Circa it may have contributed to an overall disillusionment with America.
“It’s a puzzle that needs to be looked at from every possible angle,” said a counterterrorism law enforcement official, who works on terror related cases in the United States. “The JTTF (Joint Terrorism Task Force) will be looking at everything, including Afghanistan. They will be looking into his lawsuit as well. No doubt it’s just one part of a much bigger puzzle.”
Investigators will “see if he had training building the bombs, they will look for signatures in his bomb making” the law enforcement official said. Rahami was not on a terror watch list, they added.
Rahami is the only suspect in the bomb plots in New York and New Jersey, according to law enforcement. He was captured on surveillance camera planting two pressure cooker bombs in the Chelsea area of Manhattan, which injured 29.
In New Jersey, one of four pipe bombs exploded near the 5k charity run, but no one was injured. Law enforcement officials also discovered five more bombs at the Elizabeth station in New Jersey.
Investigators will be looking closely at how the bombs were constructed for clues.
Kim Jensen, a retired counterterrorism instructor with the FBI and an expert on terror groups in the Middle East, said that the issue of who is claiming responsibility for the attack is less important than the ideology that motivates all of the terrorist groups and radical followers.
“If you look at the terror groups in terms of a hydra it might make more sense,” said Jenson. “All the heads may hate each other, ISIS, al-Qaeda and others but they operate together with one common goal.”