"The sound of bombs will be heard in the streets," defendant wrote, prosecutor says
Survivors recount "deafening sound and blinding light," "that same smell of 9/11"
The suspect in the blast that shook New York’s Chelsea neighborhood last year, injuring 30 people, was escorted out of federal court Monday after he interrupted the lead prosecutor on the first day of his trial on charges that include using a weapon of mass destruction and bombing a public place.
Ahmad Khan Rahimi, who also goes by Rahami, watched via live video stream from another room as Assistant US Attorney Shawn Crowley told jurors that DNA evidence, fingerprints and surveillance footage would link Rahimi to bombs placed last September in Manhattan, including the one that exploded and another one that police found blocks away.
“By some miracle, no one was killed that day,” Crowley said.
Meantime, Rahimi’s attorney, Meghan Gilligan, cast the 29-year-old as a family man who grew up in New Jersey, worked for his father and is a father himself.
If convicted, Rahimi could face life in prison. Testimony continues Tuesday in the case.
Rahimi, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, faces charges in other jurisdictions in connection with bombs found within hours of the Chelsea blast in a wastebasket near a rail station in Elizabeth and near the start of a Marine Corps charity run in Seaside Park, New Jersey, as well as with crimes tied to a shootout that led to his arrest, according to a criminal complaint.
Jurors promised a look at defendant’s notebook
US District Judge Richard Berman had warned Rahimi on Monday to stop interrupting Crowley.
The defendant later returned to court – after the jury had been ushered out – and apologized for speaking out of turn. He also told the judge he’d been allowed too few family visits, noting that visits with his children had been infrequent and that it had been more than a year since he’d seen his wife
Berman said he would look into the complaints.
Crowley, in her opening statement, said Rahimi believed he was a soldier in a holy war and had been influenced by Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda and ISIS, citing his Internet search history.
She also told jurors they would see Rahimi’s notebook, which includes the phrases, “the sound of bombs will be heard in the streets” and “death to your oppression,” along with an entry about attacking non-believers.
Jurors on Monday also saw surveillance video of the blast from several businesses in Chelsea, and were introduced to survivors of the explosion.
An architect described experiencing a “deafening sound and blinding light” that thrust her to her knees as she walked home. A hotel manager said the scene had “that same smell of 9/11: burning plastic and burning wood.” A woman testified that she had to have metal shards removed from her chest and legs as a result of the explosion.
911 call likely saved lives, prosecutors say
Jurors also heard the 911 call Jane Schreibman made when she came across “a suspicious package” blocks away from the Chelsea blast site – a pressure cooker in a plastic bag covered in duct tape with wires sticking out.
“I knew it was a pressure cooker and people make bombs out of pressure cookers,” she said.
That unexploded bomb was almost identical to the devices used in the Boston Marathon attacks three years earlier, authorities have said.
Prosecutors said Schreibman’s call to authorities probably saved lives.
CNN’s Elizabeth Joseph contributed to this report.