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How Did The FBI Drop The Ball With NYC Bomber Ahamad Rahami?

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Ahmad Rahami, the 28-year-old man responsible for setting off a bomb in  New York City which injured 29 people last Sunday, had previously been looked at by the FBI in 2014, traveled multiple times to Afghanistan and Pakistan since 2011, and bought a substantial amount of bomb-making materials on Ebay in August. Yet, law enforcement officials were not able to stop him from committing this heinous act.  

National security expert and the host of WGBH’s Security Mom Podcast Juliette Kayyem joined Boston Public Radio Wednesday to explain how Rahami may have slipped through the FBI’s grasp and where the organization failed.  

Rahami first popped up on the FBI’s radar in 2014, when his father told the authorities he was a terrorist after a violent domestic dispute. His father later took back his accusation, but the FBI still conducted a brief investigation that failed to verify Rahimi's terrorist connections. “I think this one is a little bit harder in some ways because the FBI was brought into a family domestic dispute which the FBI will generally run away from because that is a local matter,” said Kayyem.

While the FBI may have dropped the ball in 2014, Kayyem says that the combination of travel to Afghanistan and Pakistan, the domestic disputes, and especially the collection of bomb parts he purchased on Ebay, should have set off a number of red flags. “To me, the purchases should have been the trigger to all of this conduct...That is enough to start a preliminary investigation in my mind,” said Kayyem.

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