Law enforcement links Islamic terrorism to Chelsea, NJ bombings
After the bombing in the Chelsea neighborhood in New York City, Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York mayor Bill de Blasio went to great lengths to assure New Yorkers that international terrorism was not involved.
Mayor Bill de Blasio called the bombing an “intentional” act but declined to call it terrorism before police had any tangible notion of motive. O’Neill echoed those comments, saying if the act was terrorism police will “come out and say it”.
But Governor Andrew Cuomo described the bombing as terrorism regardless of its ultimate motive or perpetrator. “There is no link at this time at this preliminary stage to international terrorism,” he said, adding that police will consider any motive, terroristic, political or personal. “Whoever placed these bombs, we will find and they will be brought to justice.”
This morning, both men will be singing a different tune.
Law enforcement authorities believe they have found a link between Islamic terrorism and the bombings in Chelsea, as well as bombs that were discovered last night near a train station outside a bar in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Police and FBI have launched an intense search for the man they believe may have built the bombs – a naturalized American citizen from Afghanistan.
New York police say they're looking for 28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami in connection with the Chelsea bombing over the weekend.
Also on Monday morning, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday the bombs found over the weekend have similarities, suggesting "there might have been a common linkage."
Cuomo said the investigation is ongoing, and he "wouldn't be surprised if it zeroes in on a particular individual, today even," and he "wouldn't be surprised if we found a foreign connection to the act."
The intense investigation into the weekend bomb blasts in New York and New Jersey is leading authorities to signs of a possible terror cell in those two states, law enforcement officials told CNN Monday.
The ongoing investigation, which includes two bombs in New York City and devices in two cities in New Jersey, has given authorities leads on specific people who are urgently being sought.
Also on Monday morning, a federal law enforcement official said BBs and ball bearings were among the pieces of metal that appeared to be packed into both pressure cooker bombs in New York.
One of those devices exploded on 23rd Street, but the fact that it was partly under a metal trash container may have diminished the force of the blast.
The latest developments came just hours after a backpack containing multiple bombs was found Sunday night near an Elizabeth, New Jersey, train station, according to the FBI and the city's mayor.
The backpack had up to five devices, Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage said. It was found around 9:30 p.m. in a wastebasket outside a neighborhood pub, about 500 feet from a train trestle. The two men who found the backpack thought it might contain something valuable, but they alerted police when they saw wires and a pipe on the devices, the mayor said. No cell phones or electronic timing devices were found, Bollwage said.
Five suspects were arrested by the FBI near the Verrazano Bridge in New York. It is unknown what connection, if any, they have to the bombings.
It is still possible that Rahami is not connected to international terrorism, but rather "inspired" by ISIS or al-Qaeda. It hardly matters. The possibility of an active terror cell on the east coast targeting innocent civilians must now be dealt with.
We will update this blog post if there is any additional significant information.