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NYC bombing suspect's family scrutinized over social media posts

CBS News CBS News 23/09/2016 cbsnews

CBS News has learned Ahmad Rahami may have checked out his targets before allegedly planting bombs in Manhattan. Investigators now believe Rahami ramped up his planning of the plot during the summer, buying bomb-making components, a gun and scoping out the Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan. Investigators are vetting the accounts of witnesses who say they saw the 28-year-old in the area two days before the attack.

There are also new concerns that other members of the bombing suspect’s family may have had pro-jihadist views, reports CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues.

Site Intelligence Group published Facebook posts allegedly shared by Rahami’s sister Aziza. Some quote radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

In other posts, she appears to praise terrorists, and use imagery popular with the Muslim Brotherhood.  

“It seems like the family may have adopted some of the same viewpoints as he did, but again, it’s too early to say if they were directly involved with the attack itself,” said Tara Maller, a senior policy advisor at the Counter Extremism Project. 

Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, is seen in a Union County, New Jersey, prosecutor’s office photo released on Sept. 19, 2016. © Courtesy Union County Prosecutor’s Office/Handout via Reuters Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, is seen in a Union County, New Jersey, prosecutor’s office photo released on Sept. 19, 2016. Rahami’s friends and family have told investigators he changed after a year-long trip to Afghanistan in 2014. They said he became more religious and started distancing himself. 

In an interview with the New York Times, Rahami’s father said he warned federal agents in 2014 about some of his son’s suspicious activities.

“The way he speaks, his videos, when I see these things that he listens to, for example, Al Qaeda, Taliban, he watches their videos, their poetry,” he said.

But the FBI told CBS News: “Atno time did the father advise interviewing agents of any radicalization or alleged links to Al Qaeda, the Taliban or their propaganda.” 

Meanwhile, Rahami is still hospitalized four days after a shootout with New Jersey police. He is unconscious and hooked up to a breathing tube.

Authorities have still not found Rahami’s bomb factory, but they did find bomb residue at a location in the town of Perth Amboy, where Rahami once lived.

Police still want to speak with two witnesses who stumbled upon a pressure cooker bomb on 27th Street on Saturday. Surveillance video aired by NBC News New York shows the unidentified men removing a wire pressure cooker and walking away with Rahami’s luggage.

Investigators are also still trying to determine whether Rahami was conspiring with someone else to carry out the attack. On the day of the bombings in Seaside Park, New Jersey and Chelsea, investigators believe the 28-year-old covered a lot of ground in a relatively short amount of time, suggesting that there may have been someone else helping him.

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