Ahmad Khan Rahami was taken into custody on Sept. 19th after exchanging gunfire with police and was charged on Sept. 20 for the bombings in New York and New Jersey that occurred on Sept. 17. He has been charged with five counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, as well as two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm.
According to the Washington Post, Rahami is the main suspect in the bombings in Seaside Park, N.J., Elizabeth, N.J. and Manhattan. The bomb in Manhattan detonated in the Chelsea neighborhood, where 31 people were wounded, according to the New York Post. The bomb in Seaside Park, N.J. exploded during a charity run. Police also found an explosive in Elizabeth and another in a train station.
Fox News reports that Rahami spent time at a Pakistani seminary, where he allegedly obtained an Islamist education in the midst of Taliban territory.
Glen Duerr, professor of international studies at Cedarville University, said believes firmly that the bombings were an act of terror. He appeared on WDTN (NBC) and WHIO TV this week to discuss the implications of the event.
Duerr said believes that Rahami received a call to action through social media, mainly because of the crude nature of the bombs (some created out of pressure cookers) and the fact that there was a crude knife attack in a mall in Minnesota the same weekend. The unique medium has been used by recent terror groups for propaganda and hacking (cited by Trump and Clinton during the Sept. 26 debate). Duerr told Cedars he believes the way that to fight cyberterrorism is to work with social media companies.
“I think it’s going to come down to working with the Facebooks, the Twitters, the Apples of the world. If there’s a greater coordination there, we may be able to get ahead of the curve a little bit,” he said.
Duerr also remarked that he discovered an interesting trend in his study of recent terror attacks. He noted that the most recent attacks have been in the United States, Belgium and France.
“I cannot tell you why the United Kingdom, Canada, even Russia have not been attacked more — it is a surprise to me, and in some ways I would actually almost expect attacks to occur in these countries, unfortunately,” he said.
Looking back to the present, New York and New Jersey are still recovering from the aftermath of the weekend.
A volunteer organization based in Elizabeth known as New York City Relief was directly impacted by the bombings. New York City Relief is a Christian organization which reaches out to the homeless in New York City via weekly bus trips, and their offices were shut down by the bomb detonated in Elizabeth. They updated the public with a video, reassuring volunteers that the buses would still be running into New York despite the threats. Corey Hayes, Communications Director for New York City Relief, commented on the tense situation.
“It’s easy to be a loving person or even a Christian when everything looks great and your situation is comfortable,” Hayes said. “You find what is inside you once your situation starts to squeeze you and become challenging. I think the piece of scripture I tweeted out that day encapsulates it: ‘But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,’ Matthew 5:44. Praying for those who hate you — this is the narrow way that Jesus talks about.”
Duerr also had an encouraging message for Americans after events of terror.
“Vigilance, to me, is the best way forward. We’re correctly fearful, but also resilient and ready to stop the perpetrators. My fellow Americans, my fellow citizens, we can stop terrorist attacks — we can foil these things,” he said.
Alexandria Hentschel is a freshman international studies major and an off-campus news writer for Cedars. She enjoys old books, strong coffee and