Bomber Sentenced to 2 Life Terms for Manhattan Attack



Ahmad Khan Rahimi in State Superior Court in Elizabeth, N.J., in May. Mr. Rahimi was sentenced to life in prison in Federal Court in Manhattan on Tuesday for the Chelsea bombing.

Mike Segar/Reuters

Ahmad Khan Rahimi, an Afghan-born immigrant who worked quietly behind the counter of his family’s fast-food restaurant before building and planting the bomb that exploded in Manhattan in 2016, was sentenced on Tuesday to two life terms in prison.

Judge Richard M. Berman handed down the sentence in Federal District Court in Manhattan, ending the prosecution of Mr. Rahimi, who was convicted of the high-profile act of jihad-inspired terrorism that was widely considered a near miss, injuring dozens without killing anyone. Mr. Rahimi was convicted by a jury in October setting off weapons of mass destruction.



FBI investigators working in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood after the 2016 bombing.

Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

Mr. Rahimi, 30, planned an attack that was simple, with devices made from household goods, and potentially lethal. On Sept. 17, 2016, Mr. Rahimi traveled to Manhattan from his home in Elizabeth, N.J. pulling suitcases on rollers with each hand. He went on to place a homemade bomb — packed into a pressure cooker and wired to a flip-phone detonator — on a stretch of the Chelsea neighborhood’s West 23rd Street, busy with pedestrians on a warm Saturday night. The blast from that device sent glass and shrapnel flying and launched a construction waste container across the street. More than 30 people were injured, and they described that night in testimony at Mr. Rahimi’s trial.

He placed a second bomb on West 27th Street, but a passer-by on edge from the blast four blocks away noticed it and called the police, and the bomb squad took the device away without incident. Earlier that day, he had placed a bomb in a garbage can at the finish line of a United States Marine Corps charity race in Seaside Park, N.J. The race’s start time had been delayed, however, and no one was hurt when the bomb exploded.

He had planned more attacks. The day after the Chelsea explosion, Mr. Rahimi returned to New Jersey and left a backpack containing six pipe bombs in an Elizabeth, N.J., train station. One exploded after it was detonated by a police robot, but the bombs caused no injuries.

Mr. Rahimi was portrayed as a loner drawn to calls of jihad in online publications like Inspire.

In December, prosecutors said Mr. Rahimi had been giving other inmates access to speeches and lectures by Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki and the same sort of bomb-making instructions from Inspire that were used as evidence at his trial.