In 2014, the East Coast bomber’s father told FBI agents that his son was a terrorist. The father, Mohammad Rahami, told the New York Times:
Two years ago I go to the FBI because my son [Ahmad Khan Rahami, shown] was doing really bad, O.K.? But they check almost two months [and] they say: “He’s O.K., he’s clean, he’s not a terrorist.”
I say O.K.
It’s not OK. The father did the right thing: acting as the first line of defense against a radical jihadists who threatened innocents. The FBI investigation, called an “assessment,” failed to turn up enough evidence to so much as put Ahmad on a watch list.
Yet after the bombings, evidence turned up that previously should have triggered more than a cursory “nothing to see here, move along” from the police or the FBI. To wit: The terrorist made several trips abroad between 2010 and 2014, including a year’s stay in Pakistan. His notebook, recovered at the scene of his arrest, following the attack in New York, revealed a follower of Anwar al-Awlaki (al-Qaeda’s leading propagandist, who was killed five years ago in Yemen) and a supporter of Nidal Hassan, the murderer of soldiers at Fort Hood.
In addition Ahmad spent three months in jail for attacking and knifing his brother. Didn’t that register on the assessment screen?
Apparently not. That “assessment” didn’t even involve a conversation with the accused bomber. Two months: no evidence, no concerns, no conversation?
The FBI said that the father’s “terrorist” accusation against his son was later renounced by the father.
An official, when asked about the inquiry, said the father made the comment out of anger at his son and later recanted.
Mr. Rahami was charged with aggravated assault and illegal weapons possession, according to court records. He spent over three months in jail, according to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation. A grand jury, however, declined to indict Mr. Rahami. Assistant director William F. Sweeney, who heads the F.B.I.’s New York office, alluded on Monday at a news conference to a “domestic incident” in which he said the “allegations were recanted.”
If lone-wolf jihadists are to be stopped, or even slowed, at least two things must happen: Non-jihadist Muslims must not remain silent when terrorists exist in their midst, plotting, planning, and carrying out their acts of terror. If they don’t, then every Muslim in the country will be painted with the same brush: You’re all terrorists!
And investigations such as the “assessment” that revealed nothing must go deeper and reach further in order to identify those who would harm U.S. citizens. Without at least these two changes, more lone-wolf attacks by disaffected Muslim terrorists posing as Americans can be expected to maim and kill innocents.
A graduate of an Ivy League school and a former investment advisor, Bob is a regular contributor to The New American magazine and blogs frequently at LightFromTheRight.com, primarily on economics and politics. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.