A man accused of setting off a pressure cooker bomb in New York City that injured 30 people was a "soldier in a holy war" bent on carrying out a murderous plot with maximum carnage, federal prosecutors said today at the start of his trial.
A man accused of setting off a pressure cooker bomb in New York City that injured 30 people was a “soldier in a holy war” bent on carrying out a murderous plot with maximum carnage, federal prosecutors said today at the start of his trial.
Ahmad Khan Rahimi researched online, bought ingredients and assembled bombs after watching how-to videos, they said.
“He designed it. He built it,” Assistant US Attorney Shawn Crowley said. “He filled it with explosives and deadly shrapnel and he planted it on the street.”
Rahimi planted a pipe bomb at a charity race in Seaside Park, New Jersey, that exploded but didn’t injure anyone, prosecutors said. He went back home, then took a train into Manhattan and planted two pressure cooker bombs, they said.
One didn’t go off. The other, hidden near a large trash bin in the busy Chelsea neighborhood, burst at about 8:30 pm sending the 100-pound trash bin flying into the air. The blast shattered windows and scattered bits of metal.
Rahimi’s defense attorney, Meghan Gilligan, asked jurors to keep an open mind about the case and said the government would not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that her client is guilty.
“He is at the end of the day a person,” who deserves an open mind from jurors, she said.
Rahimi was briefly removed from the courtroom just as his trial opened today.
He interrupted proceedings to speak with US District Court Judge Richard Berman and was escorted out. He returned after the prosecution’s opening statement and apologized for the outburst, telling the judge he hadn’t been able to see his wife since his detention.
“It was not my intention to make a scene,” he told Berman. He said he’s barely seen his three children and hasn’t seen his wife once, because she is not approved to go to the detention facility where he’s held.
“Why are they preventing me from seeing my wife?” he asked the judge. Berman scolded Rahimi for making a scene and for raising the issue “one minute before we were scheduled to start this trial,” but he promised he’d look into the visitation issue.
Rahimi sat down and had no other outbursts as the case progressed.
The 29-year-old who lived with his family in Elizabeth, New Jersey, is not charged with terrorism, but he has been charged with crimes including bombing a public place, using a weapon of mass destruction and interstate transportation of explosives.
He was shot by law enforcement during his arrest two days after the attacks. He has pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail.
The bomb that exploded in Chelsea knocked Helena Ayeh, an architect who was headed home, off her feet. (AP)