NEW YORK — As bombing suspect Ahmad Rahami remains hospitalized and investigators look to his wife, who has returned to the United States, for answers, a detailed timeline is being pieced together of his movements from the time when they say he left bombs in Seaside Park, New Jersey to his capture in Linden two days later, law enforcement sources tell CNN.
Based on the new information, investigators now believe Rahami went back to his family’s Elizabeth, New Jersey home after the Chelsea bombings and was seen there by his family.
In law enforcement interviews with family members, Rahami was described as behaving normally. According to the officials, his return home appears to be in a time period before Rahami was publicly identified as a suspect in the bombings.
The federal complaint filed against Rahami describes how he came to Manhattan about two hours before the first blast on West 23rd Street in Chelsea, but does not explain a three-hour gap from then to when he is believed to have left the city via the Lincoln Tunnel at approximately 11:30 p.m., around the same time the NYPD and New York City mayor were hold their first news conference regarding the nights’ terror.
Investigators have been aided both by surveillance footage as well as tracking of his phone, which had no cellular service but used available Wi-Fi.
While a timeline has been created, investigators are still not clear where Rahami allegedly built the bombs he used, according the multiple sources. But one source familiar with the investigation remarked that the bombs reflected a skilled hand at assembly.
Rahami himself remains in the hospital. In a federal court filing Thursday, lawyers from the U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey wrote that they’ve been informed by Rahami’s medical team that “he is currently incapacitated and intubated. As such, he is not in sufficient physical health for presentment to the Court — even at a bedside proceeding.”
While investigators have talked to the family, they are still seeking more information on what, if anything, they knew about Rahami’s intentions. According to law enforcement sources, it was the cell phone of Rahami’s younger sister that contained the video of him “lighting the fuse” of a partially buried cylindrical object, followed by “a loud noise and flames, followed by billowing smoke.”
The complaint alleges that event took place two days before the bombings and describes how laughter is heard on the video before Rahami returns into the frame and is seen picking up the object. So far, investigators have no information to suggest the sister knew of Rahami’s plans.
Rahami’s wife has returned to the U.S. after talking with the FBI in Dubai, according to law enforcement officials. She told investigators in Dubai that she had no knowledge of her husband’s activities and is expected to talk more with the FBI now that she is back in the U.S.
Sources tell CNN that it now appears that she left in June and a previously booked ticket to return this week.