When Ahmad Khan Rahami returned in March 2014 from a nearly yearlong trip to Pakistan, he was flagged by customs officials, who pulled him out for a secondary screening. Still concerned about his travel, they notified the National Targeting Center, a federal agency that assesses potential threats, reports the New York Times. It was one of thousands of such notifications every year, and a report on Rahami was passed along to the FBI and other intelligence agencies. Five months later, when Rahami’s father told the police after a domestic dispute that he was concerned about his son having terrorist sympathies, federal agents again examined his travel history. And again, despite Rahami’s now having been flagged twice for scrutiny, the concerns were not found to warrant a deeper inquiry, one of the law enforcement officials said. Ahmad Rahami was not interviewed by federal agents.
But now, the travel history of Rahami, who is accused of carrying out bombings in New York and New Jersey last weekend, has become a focus of investigators, a subject made all the more urgent by details contained in a notebook that suggests he drew inspiration largely from the Islamic State. Rahami cites a founding member of the Islamic State who called on Muslims around the world to take up whatever arms they could find and spill the blood of nonbelievers. The assessment of Rahami by the F.B.I. began in August 2014, and it once again reviewed the report by the National Targeting Center. The center was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to function as an intelligence analysis agency within the Department of Homeland Security.