World / Crime & Legal

NYC bombing suspect enters not-guilty plea, faces similar charges in New Jersey

Reuters, AP

Accused New York bomber Ahmad Khan Rahimi pleaded not guilty on Thursday to federal charges that he set off an explosive device in September on a crowded city street, injuring 30 people.

Wearing a dark blue jumpsuit, Rahimi, 28, shuffled slowly into federal court in Manhattan and had several coughing fits during the brief hearing. He suffered serious injuries in a shootout with police two days after the bombing.

He spoke only once, when U.S. District Judge Richard Berman asked him to confirm that he intended to plead not guilty to an eight-count indictment filed on Wednesday.

“Yes, sir,” Rahimi said.

Prosecutors have accused the Afghan-born U.S. citizen of setting off an explosion in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood on Sept. 17. It did not kill anyone but hurt 30 people.

The attack came hours after authorities say another pipe bomb planted by Rahimi went off along the course of a charity road race in New Jersey, although that detonation did not injure anyone.

Federal prosecutors also say Rahimi left another bomb in Chelsea that did not go off and several explosive devices in a bag at a train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

In addition to the New York indictment, Rahimi faces charges from federal and state prosecutors in New Jersey.

He was captured after a manhunt that ended when police officers discovered him sleeping in the doorway of a bar in Linden, New Jersey. The confrontation left him with several gunshot wounds, delaying the filing of federal charges and forcing him to make his first court appearance in New Jersey from a hospital bed.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Lewin told Berman that prosecutors had compiled video clips showing Rahimi’s movements on the day of the bombings, including leaving his house carrying bags, walking on West 23rd Street where the device went off and planting the second bomb on West 27th Street.

He also said the government has records showing Rahimi purchased bomb components online and DNA evidence tying him to the bombs.

Rahimi’s defense lawyers declined comment after the hearing.

The next court date is scheduled for Dec. 19.

A federal prosecutor meanwhile said the defendant spoke with the FBI for days after his arrest.

Prosecutor Nicholas Lewin said Thursday at a Manhattan court hearing that Rahimi made statements over multiple days after his Sept. 19 capture in Linden, New Jersey.

He is still recovering from multiple bullet wounds suffered in a shootout with police. He was moved last week to a federal lockup next to the Manhattan courthouse.

Rahimi entered a not-guilty plea to an eight-count indictment returned Wednesday. If convicted of all charges, he could face a mandatory life prison sentence.

Lewin told Judge Richard Berman that evidence includes video of Rahimi before a Sept. 17 bomb wounded 30 people in Manhattan.