Let’s hope this terror cell is found fast. If you live in that area, be on alert and keep safe. And for the rest of us, stay armed and stay safe.
Authorities say a terror cell may be operating in New York and New Jersey after a backpack containing up to five explosive devices was found in an NJ train station Sunday and the five suspects were stopped in an SUV full of weapons on the bridge to an NY airport.
These are just two more chilling twists in a shocking 36 hours that have seen bombs detonated in both cities, 29 people injured and further devices uncovered in public areas – and compelled Hillary Clinton to call for tougher vetting of US visitors.
The backpack was discovered in a wastebasket near Elizabeth Station by two men at around 8:30pm, Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage said, adding: ‘They took the package out of the wastebasket because they thought it was of some value to them.’
Seeing wires and a pipe, the men then dropped the bag and called police – who dispatched a robot to disarm the devices.
However, footage from the scene shows the robot accidentally cutting the wrong wire on one of the IEDs, causing a huge explosion. One of the robots was damaged, but no one was hurt in the blast.
Also at 8.45pm, FBI agents in New York detained five New Jersey men on the Belt Parkway near the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in Brooklyn.
Their car was said by authorities to contain a weapons stash and bomb-making equipment. The men, who were believed to be heading to an airport, were taken to Federal Plaza in Manhattan for questioning.
Officials said the men were from the same family, that there could be more suspects at large, and that a terror cell may be operating in the area.
Both incidents came after Saturday’s dramatic events, when a pipe bomb exploded without injury in Seaside Park, New Jersey, and a pressure-cooker bomb detonated in Manhattan’s affluent Chelsea neighborhood, hurting 29 people. Unexploded bombs were also found in both locations.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday morning that there is a possible ‘foreign connection’ behind the Chelsea bombing, at the same time as the FBI announced Ahmad Khan Rahami, a 28-year-old male from New Jersey, was being sought in connection with the attack.
An apartment believed to be Rahami’s Elizabeth, NJ home was raided by FBI agents at 6am, around an hour and a half before his name and photo were released.
The apartment, located at 104 Elmora Avenue, off Linden Avenue, is located above the ‘First American Fried Chicken’ restaurant owned by Rahami’s family, including his father, Mohammad Sr, 53.
An investigation by Dailymail.com revealed Monday that the Rahamis had filed a complaint against local police, whom they said persecuted them, forcing the family to close their restaurant earlier than necessary on evenings.
The suit also said that locals had met them with racist language and told them Muslims do not belong in the area.
It was dismissed with prejudice – meaning that it cannot be resubmitted to court – in 2012.
Mayor Bill de Blasio warned Rahami, a naturalized US citizen originally from Afghanistan, could be armed and dangerous, adding: ‘We need to get this guy in right away. My experience is one the FBI zeroes in on someone, they will get them.’
Neither ISIS nor any other international terrorist organization has claimed any connection with the acts.
The release of the suspect’s name came after a dramatic 36 hours in which:
– A military race in New Jersey had to be abandoned when a pipe bomb exploded at 9.30am Saturday;
– A bomb which was hidden in a trash can exploded in Chelsea, Midtown Manhattan, at 8.30pm Saturday, injuring 29 passers-by;
– A second explosive device made from a pressure cooker was found just a few blocks away at 10pm that night;
– Leading politicians including both presidential candidates described the series of bombings as acts of terror;
– Five explosives were found at a train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey, at 8.30pm Sunday. One went off when a robot cut the wrong wire at around 1am Monday;
– Five people were stopped in a car full of weapons in Brooklyn near the Verrazano Bridge in New York at 8:45pm Sunday, and are now being questioned by the FBI’
– FBI raided an apartment at 104 Elmora Ave off Linden Ave in Elizabeth, NJ. The apartment, located above the First American Fried Chicken restaurant, is believed to belong to Rahami.
Officers at Elizabeth train station were startled by the huge bang that erupted without warning just before 1am on Monday morning when the bomb squad robot cut the wrong wire on one of five devices – causing it to explode.
Authorities said the loss of life ‘could have been enormous’ with the device discovered at a spot where, just hours later, thousands of passengers would ordinarily be gathering for their morning commute.
While there was no immediate sign of damage to the station, authorities warned the public there may be more detonations through the night as they attempt to diffuse the remaining IEDs.
Authorities raised the frightening possibility that an active terror cell was currently in the midst of unleashing attacks across New Jersey and New York and around 9.30pm when two men discovered up to five suspect packages in the trash and alerted the police.
‘This was an explosive device’ containing as many as five devices, said Elizabeth Mayor Christian Bollwage. ‘Based on the loudness, I think people could have been seriously hurt’.
‘I can imagine that if all five of them went off at the same time, that the loss of life could have been enormous if there was an event going on,’ he added.
FBI agents and police converged on an apartment near the station at 6am, though it wasn’t immediately clear if there was a connection between the dwelling and the blast.
Commuter trains are this morning resuming service. New Jersey Transit says Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast Line trains began rolling at 5.30am. However passengers have been warned to expect delays.
The FBI was working to disarm the other four devices.
FBI Newark told followers on Twitter this morning: ‘There was a suspicious package with multiple improvised explosive devices this evening at the Elizabeth Train Station in NJ.
‘Bomb techs from the FBI, Union County, and the New Jersey State Police have arrived on the scene and are now rendering the area safe.
‘In the course of rendering one of the devices safe, it detonated. There are no injuries and law enforcement personnel are at the scene processing evidence. We will continue to provide additional information once the area has been cleared.’
Earlier in the day New York City, the FBI called the NYPD for backup at around 8.45pm after making the decision to halt a ‘vehicle of interest’ on the busy Belt Parkway and found the occupants were heavily armed.
According to The Associated Press, the five were taken to an FBI building in lower Manhattan to be questioned. The FBI have admitted they are looking for additional suspects.
Authorities identified a person of interest in the Chelsea attack using surveillance footage, but it is not clear if he was among the five brought in for questioning.
No one has been charged with any crime and the investigation is continuing, says the FBI, which confirmed all five individuals are from New Jersey.
According to the New York Daily News, law enforcement later discovered three pipe bombs and two smaller devices at a train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey, near to Newark Liberty International Airport.
According to Mayor Bollwage, two unidentified men found a package in a trash bin around 9.30pm and decided to take it because they ‘thought it was of some value.’
When they saw wires and the pipe they dropped it and called Elizabeth Police.
Police deployed a robot to examine the device which Bollwage described as a ‘possible live bomb.’
All train traffic out of Manhattan to New Jersey was immediately halted while the bomb squad was dispatched.
State Sen. Martin Golden said the incident is connected to what happened in Chelsea and the FBI later confirmed that statement.
‘About an hour ago the FBI took several individuals into custody on the Belt Parkway in the area underneath the Verranazno Bridge, with a possible connection to last night’s bombing,’ Golden posted on Instagram.