NYC Explosion: Buying Bomb Parts Through eBay

Feds: Ahmad Rahami went online to collect explosive components in June.

September 21, 2016, 8:05 AM

— -- The man suspected of planting bombs in New York City and New Jersey was able to use the popular online bidding site eBay to secretly collect bomb components starting months ago, officials allege in court documents.

Ahmad Rahami, the 28-year-old who was apprehended Monday after a shootout with police, purportedly began plans for a bombing in mid-June when he purchased more than 200 round lead and steel balls designed as slingshot ammunition.

"I know, based on my training, experience, and conversations with other law enforcement officials, that ball bearings can be used in improvised explosives to increase fragmentation and thus to increase the lethality of the device," FBI agent Peter Fredrick Licata said in a criminal complaint filed late Tuesday in New York. Elsewhere the complaint notes that the bomb that detonated in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood was "packed with ball bearings and steal nuts."

PHOTO: Law enforcement circulated this image, purportedly of Ahmad Khan Rahami, who is wanted for questioning in the Manhattan explosion investigation.
Law enforcement circulated this image, purportedly of Ahmad Khan Rahami, who is wanted for questioning in the Manhattan explosion investigation.
New Jersey State Police

Over the next several weeks, Rahami used eBay to purchase several other components that Licata wrote can be used in bombs, including citric acid, a "precursor chemical commonly used in improvised explosives," the complaint says.

In a statement to ABC News, eBay said it has been "proactively working with law enforcement authorities on their investigation," and "the types of items bought by the suspect are legal to buy and sell in the United States and are widely available at online and offline stores."

Rahami has been charged in New York and New Jersey courts with a litany of alleged crimes including multiple counts of attempted murder, the use of weapons of mass destruction and destruction of property. Of the multiple devices authorities allege Rahami planted in New York in New Jersey, only the Chelsea device injured bystanders, wounding 31 people, according to the complaint.

Though authorities have not described a motive in the attack, the complaint revealed that Rahami allegedly wrote anti-American screeds in a journal and praised al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, American-born al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and the gunman in the 2009 Fort Hood massacre, Nidal Hasan.

"You (USA Government) continue your [unintelligible] slaught[er] against the mujahidean [Islamic warriors] be it Afghanistan, Iraq, Sham [Syria], Palestine..." part of the journal reads, according to the complaint. "[God willing] the sounds of the bombs will be heard in the streets. Gun shots to your police. Death to your OPPRESSION."

Rahami is expected to be represented by Federal Defenders of New York and first appear in a New York court. The public defender group's executive director, David Patton, wrote to a New York judge today to urge that Rahami be presented with the complaint against him "so he may be informed of the federal charges and have access to counsel."

Patton said Rahami, who is being treated for gunshot wounds at a hospital in New Jersey, has been questioned by federal law enforcement officials since his arrest Monday.

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