NYC bomber Ahmad Rahami’s troubled history of domestic violence, long time foreign travel, and embrace of strict Islamic ideology before the attack confirm an emerging trend of recent American ‘homegrown’ terrorists.
Rahami was born in Afghanistan in 1988 and came to the U.S. as a small child. He frequently clashed with his overtly religious father and pursued American cultural interests. Tensions between Rahami and his father reached their peak after Rahami knocked up his high school girlfriend, who subsequently kept the child.
Rahami meandered uneventfully through life before taking a few long trips to Pakistan. American intelligence officials told The New York Times Rahami was in the city of Quetta, a well known terrorist sanctuary for Taliban fighters. When Rahami returned four years ago he began wearing traditional Pakistani dress, grew a beard, and prayed five times a day in the back of his store.
Rahami’s high-school sweetheart, and mother to his daughter, told Fox News he was a deadbeat father delinquent on child support payments.
“He would speak often of Western culture and how it was different back home,” she continued, elaborating, “How there weren’t homosexuals in Afghanistan.”
After returning from a nearly year long jaunt in Quetta, Rahami was involved in a gruesome domestic violence incident. Rahami allegedly stabbed a relative in the leg, and spent nearly three months in jail awaiting trial for weapons and aggravated assault charges.
Elements of Rahami’s story almost exactly match the stories of Orlando shooter Omar Mateen, Chattanooga shooter Mohammod Abdulazeez, and Boston Bomber’s Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Abdulazeez was a Kuwaiti born naturalized U.S. citizen who was a pervasive drug user, once arrested for drunk driving. He was unable to keep a steady job, was evicted from his apartment, and his parents tried to get him to rehab. Eventually Abdulazeez’s parents sent him to Jordan to live with a relative for 7 months. After he returned Abdulazeez’s religious bent became increasingly apparent, and he would not speak with women.
A few months after his return, in July 2015, Abdulazeez attacked a Marine Corps recruiting center in Chattanooga, Tenn. He killed 4 U.S. Marines and wounded 3 in the name of the Islamic State.
The Tsarnaev brothers followed a similar path through life. They came to the U.S. in 2002, after fleeing the violence in the Russian-Chechen war. Tamerlan in particular found life in America very difficult, and eventually dropped out of community college. Tamerlan harbored dreams of becoming an Olympic boxer, but increasingly turned to drugs and alcohol to deal with his problems.
Tamerlan’s parents encouraged him to turn to Islam to fill his void, and he came especially religious. He went to Dagestan for six months, and became fully radicalized. Tamerlan returned to America and increasingly bloviated about radical Islam on twitter, and bringing his younger brother into his fold.
Tamerlan then downloaded an al-Qaida magazine with a tutorial on “How to make a bomb in the kitchen of your mother.” Him and his brother put them in two back packs and set them off at the Boston Marathon in April 2013. They killed six bystanders and maimed several hundred others.
Mateen was similarly the son of an Afghan immigrant with a perpetually troubled childhood. Mateen suffered from anger issues, and reportedly terrorized his young wife. After she fled, Mateen bounced around between security jobs and tried to settle down. He went to Saudi Arabia on a religious pilgrimage and became increasingly enraged at perceived deficiencies in American culture.
Mateen’s growing religiosity came at the same time of the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, which he followed with excitement online. Mateen eventually gunned down 49 people at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando in June 2016.
In the midst of Mateen’s shooting rampage he took the time to go on Facebook to reaffirm his pledge of allegiance to ISIS’s leader, ask Allah to accept him in heaven, and warn the American people “In the next few days you will see attacks from the Islamic state in the USA.”
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