Everything You Need to Know About the Chelsea Bombings


The New York Police Department crowd around the scene of the Chelsea bombing in New York. The attack has been used by the presidential candidates as a point for their campaign. Picture by Getty, published by Esquire.


On September 17th, 2016, a homemade bomb exploded in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, injuring 31 people. The explosive, a pressure cooker, believed to have detonated inside of a dumpster along West 23rd Street. A few hours later, a second bomb was found four blocks away, and was removed by authorities before it went off. The injuries were deemed non-life threatening and no casualties resulted from this incident.  


The suspect, Ahmad Khan Rahami was injured and hospitalized after a shoot-out with police in Linden, New Jersey. He cannot attend court yet because of his unstable medical condition. In a video obtained by NBCNews New York, later released to the public, Rahami is shown carrying a duffel bag that later was revealed to be concealing the homemade explosive. He leaves it on the sidewalk, and walks away. Two men then walk up to the bag, take the explosive out and put it on the ground. They then left with the bag. The FBI has recently uncovered the identities of the two men, and has released their information as two men aged approximately 35 and 42, visiting from Egypt. They have since returned to Egypt, and there is no indication that they were involved in the actual bombing. However, the FBI has asked the Egyptian government for permission to question the two men.  


Later, Rahami’s blood stained journal was discovered when he was captured, suggesting that Rahami was inspired by terror groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS. The journal especially mentioned ISIS’s second in command, Adnani, whom he refers to as “Brother Adnani”. Adnani was killed by US forces, but beforehand he charged his followers to attack the West.


Friends and family report Rahami to have “transformed” after returning from a trip to Afghanistan in 2014, saying he became more religiously devout and began distancing himself from loved ones. Rahami’s wife, with whom he had an arranged marriage, has flown in from Dubai and is cooperating with police. She is not considered to be a suspect.


The Chelsea bombing is similar to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, in terms of explosives used. In Boston, 21 year old Dzhokhar Tsarnaer used press cooker bombs as choice of explosive. He was sentenced to death for the charge of killing people and injuring hundreds others in the crowded street. However, the scene was much less crowded than the Boston Marathon, resulting in less-severe casualties. This attack is deemed not connected to the explosion occurring 11 hours earlier nearby a charity race course on the Jersey Shore.


Both the Democratic and Republican candidates addressed the issue, using it to degrade each other. Hillary Clinton reprimanded Donald Trump for his quick comment, saying that it is necessary to wait for information. She also called him “a recruiting sergeant for the terrorists,” referring to the point that Trump’s comments have been used online for the recruitment of terrorists. Clinton asserted herself, without encouraging Islamophobia.


“We’re going after the bad guys, and we’re going to get them, but we’re not going after an entire religion,” Mrs. Clinton said.


Trump used the situation to speak about a recurring topic; immigration.


“These attacks, and many others, were made possible because of our extremely open immigration system,” Mr. Trump said. “Immigration security is national security.”

The Chelsea attack drew the attention of the nation but also of those close to the perpetrator. His father, Mohammad Rahami, notified the FBI of his son’s suspicious behavior, and now he and the rest of us must watch the unfortunate events unfold. “Two years ago I go to the F.B.I. because my son was doing really bad, O.K.?” Rahami told the New York Times. “But they check almost two months, they say, ‘He’s O.K., he’s clean, he’s not a terrorist.’ I say O.K. Now they say he is a terrorist. I say O.K.”