Authorities: Bombing suspects directly linked to devices found in NY, NJ

CHELSEA, New York — Bombing suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami has been “directly linked” to devices in New York and New Jersey, FBI Special Agent William Sweeney said Monday.

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Sweeney also said a traffic stop of five people in New York led to searches and interviews in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Rahami’s last known address was in Elizabeth, and an explosives-laden backpack was found there Sunday night.

Officials believe Rahami is linked to that backpack, a bombing Saturday in Seaside Park, New Jersey, and a bombing in New York that wounded 29 people.

“We have every reason to believe this was an act of terror,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.

[Breaking news update at 1:27 p.m. ET]

Ahmad Khan Rahami, the man suspected in the weekend bombings in New York and New Jersey, is in surgery after a shootout with police in Linden, New Jersey, Union County acting prosecutor Grace Park said Monday.

Police found Rahami outside a local bar, Park said. She said none of the wounded officers was seriously injured.

[Breaking news update at 12:30 p.m. ET]

— Rahami is now in custody after a shootout with police, sources said. Rahami was shot and was taken to an ambulance in a stretcher with his right shoulder bloodied and bandaged.

— Two officers were hit in the shootout with Rahami in Linden, New Jersey, the mayor of the nearby city of Elizabeth said. One officer’s vest was struck, and the other was shot in the hand.

— Investigators first identified Rahami Sunday afternoon, a senior law enforcement official told CNN Monday. They were able to identify him through a fingerprint, the official said. The cell phone on the pressure cooker device found at the 27th street location in Manhattan also provided some clues, the official added.

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Ahmad Khan Rahami, the man wanted in connection with bombings in New York and Seaside Park, New Jersey, is also believed to be connected to pipe bombs found Sunday night in Elizabeth, New Jersey, sources said.

The bombings led authorities to believe there may be a terror cell at work in those two states, law enforcement officials told CNN Monday.

The most destructive incident took place Saturday night in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, where 29 people were injured.

Earlier Saturday, a garbage can exploded near the starting line of a Marine Corps charity run in Seaside Park, New Jersey.

And on Sunday night, a backpack with multiple bombs inside was found in Elizabeth, New Jersey. As authorities tried to investigate, one of those bombs exploded.

The series of attacks come as New York hosts world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly this week.

Here are the latest developments:

— Authorities believe Ahmad Khan Rahami is the man seen in surveillance videos rolling a duffel bag near the scene of the bombing in Chelsea, according to multiple officials.

— Surveillance videos showed the same man near the site of the explosion in Chelsea and where a pressure-cooker device was found four blocks away, law enforcement sources told CNN.

— The FBI described Rahami as a naturalized U.S. citizen of Afghan descent with a last known address in Elizabeth, New Jersey — the same city where an explosives-laden backback was found Sunday night.

— New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday the bombs found over the weekend have similarities, suggesting “there might have been a common linkage.” He said he “wouldn’t be surprised if we found a foreign connection to the act.”

— A federal law enforcement official said BBs and ball bearings were among the pieces of metal that appeared to be packed into two 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 bomb discovery

The backpack in Elizabeth, New Jersey, was found around 9:30 p.m. Sunday in a wastebasket outside a neighborhood pub — about 500 feet from a train trestle, officials said.

It contained up to five devices, Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage said. 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.

Bomb technicians sent a robot to examine the devices. As the robot was doing so, one of the devices detonated.

“The robot that went in to disarm it, cut a wire and it exploded,” Bollwage said.

The remaining four devices in the backpack will be taken to the FBI laboratory at Quantico, Virginia, Bollwage said.

Police checked all garbage cans in the immediate area, but found no other suspicious items.

Elizabeth is about 16 miles southwest of New York City. Both New Jersey Transit and Amtrak warned of delays following the incident.

The bombing in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood

Saturday’s explosion shook New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood and sent panicked people scrambling for cover.

A few blocks away from the blast site and shortly after the explosion occurred, investigators found a pressure cooker on 27th street with dark-colored wiring sticking out, connected by silver duct tape to what appeared to be a cell phone, officials said.

Surveillance video shows a man dragging what appears to be a duffel bag with wheels near the site of the West 23rd street explosion about 40 minutes before the blast, according to multiple local and federal law enforcement sources.

About 10 minutes later, surveillance video shows the same man with what appears to be the same duffel bag on West 27th street, multiple law enforcement sources said.

In the video, the man leaves the duffel bag where police later found the unexploded pressure cooker. After he leaves, the video shows two other men removing a white garbage bag believed to contain the pressure cooker from the duffel bag and leaving it on the sidewalk, according to a senior law enforcement official and another source familiar with the video.

Investigators have not determined if those two men are connected to the man with the duffel bag on both streets, the sources said.

The device was transported to the NYPD Bomb Squad facility at Rodman’s Neck Range in the Bronx.

NYPD and FBI Bomb technicians rendered the device safe. A forensic examination of the device and its components will be conducted at the FBI Laboratory at Quantico, Virginia.

Shortly before 9 p.m. Sunday, the FBI and New York police stopped a vehicle of interest in the investigation, according to a statement from FBI. No one has been charged with any crime and the investigation is ongoing, the statement said.

‘Bigger than ever’ NYPD presence

New Yorkers will see an increased police presence around the city this week, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Heightened security across the city is common as world leaders arrive for the UN General Assembly meeting, which is already under way.

But after the Chelsea bombing, Gov. Cuomo said 1,000 additional New York State Police officers and National Guard troops will be deployed to patrol bus terminals, airports and subway stations.

“You should know you will see a very substantial NYPD presence this week — bigger than ever,” de Blasio said.

Continuing coverage here.