US terror suspect visited Taliban stronghold Quetta in Pakistan
The Afghan-origin terror suspect in the bombings in Manhattan and New Jersey had often travelled to Pakistan’s Taliban stronghold in Quetta and had married a woman there, US officials said, while admitting that he somehow evaded their scrutiny every time he returned to the country.
Ahmad Khan Rahami, a 28-year-old naturalised American citizen of Afghan descent, was born in Afghanistan and majored in criminal justice at Middlesex County College in New Jersey, according to the FBI.
In 2011, Rahami spent several weeks in Quetta and married a Pakistani woman there, according to a law enforcement official, who reviewed his travel and immigration record, CNN reported on Tuesday. Investigators are probing if he was radicalised overseas before he returned to the US in 2014.
Upon his return, Rahami had to go through secondary screening for visiting an area in Pakistan known for Taliban presence. At that time, he told immigration officials he was visiting family and attending his uncle’s wedding and, hence, wanted to get his Pakistani visa renewed, officials said.
In 2013, Rahami went to Pakistan and remained there for a year. His brother also travelled to Pakistan around the same time and posted on Facebook that they heard seven bomb blasts over 24 hours at one point in Quetta, the report said.
Official said Rahami travelled by car to Afghanistan from Quetta. When he returned to the US, he was again taken into secondary questioning but told officials that he was visiting his wife and relatives.
He was questioned every time he returned to the US, as is standard procedure, but was not on the radar as someone who might have been radicalised, the official said.
He applied to bring his wife to the US in 2011, which was approved but it was unclear if she ever came to the United States of America.