Ahmad Rahami, Manhattan Bombing Suspect, Makes His First Court Appearance

By BENJAMIN WEISER and ADAM GOLDMANNOV. 10, 2016

Ahmad Khan Rahami, the man accused of carrying out bombings in New York City and New Jersey in September, appeared for the first time in court in Manhattan on Thursday, with his lawyer expressing concern about whether his health problems could be addressed adequately in the jail where he is being held.

Mr. Rahami was arraigned in New Jersey last month on charges related to the attempted murder of police officers who captured him in Linden, N.J., on Sept. 19. Afterward, he recovered from gunshot wounds at University Hospital in Newark, where his arraignment on the New Jersey charges was held via a video conference from his hospital bed. He was later moved to Trenton State Prison, where he was held in a medical unit before he was brought to Manhattan on Thursday.

Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, said that Mr. Rahami “was brought today to Manhattan to face terrorism charges.”

“Rahami will now face justice in a federal courthouse just blocks south of where he allegedly planted his bombs,” Mr. Bharara added.

Mr. Rahami, 28, whose surname has also been spelled Rahimi, limped noticeably as he was led into the courtroom in United States District Court to face the federal charges related to the bombings.

The hearing was brief, with Mr. Rahami listening attentively as a magistrate judge, Sarah Netburn, advised him of his rights. His lawyer, David E. Patton, said afterward that his client would plead not guilty when he was arraigned.

Ahmad Khan Rahami.CreditUnion County prosecutor's office, via Associated Press

Ahmad Khan Rahami.CreditUnion County prosecutor's office, via Associated Press

The hearing did not focus on the government’s investigation. But three federal law enforcement officials recently said that while Mr. Rahami was hospitalized in Newark, the Federal Bureau of Investigation used the so-called public safety exception to question him before he was represented by a lawyer.

 

Under that exception, such questioning may be conducted without a suspect’s being advised of his rights.

It is not known what the F.B.I. asked Mr. Rahami, but agents were interested in learning whether he had built other bombs or received training overseas, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the continuing investigation.

Mr. Rahami’s lawyer, Mr. Patton, declined to comment when asked about the questioning. The bureau and Mr. Bharara’s office also had no comment.

The charges against Mr. Rahami include two that carry a potential life sentence if he is convicted — use of weapons of mass destruction and bombing a place of public use.

More than 30 people were injured when one of the bombs, which had been placed under a trash bin on 23rd Street in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, exploded on Sept. 17. Earlier that day, bombs placed in a trash can in Seaside Park, N.J., exploded before a charity race. No one was injured.

The issue of Mr. Rahami’s medical care arose when Mr. Patton, who leads the city’s federal public defender office, told the judge that Mr. Rahami, who was shot about a half-dozen times, had undergone eight to 10 surgeries since his capture, had suffered serious liver damage and infections, and lost the use of his left hand.

Mr. Patton said his office had “some real concerns” about Mr. Rahami’s health and the ability of the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where he is being held, to “provide adequate care.”

A prosecutor, Andrew J. DeFilippis, said the Bureau of Prisons, before taking Mr. Rahami into custody, had assessed that he was “fit for confinement” and would receive appropriate treatment.

Judge Netburn agreed to hold a hearing next week to review the medical issues and Mr. Rahami’s treatment at the detention center.