The FBI and NYPD are looking for two men who took a suitcase from 27th Street Saturday night — and left behind the bomb that was sitting inside it.
The bureau’s New York office released a photo of the two men Wednesday, saying it was taken between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday on 27th between Sixth and Seventh avenues. One of the men appears to be wearing a tan or gray long-sleeved dress shirt and black slacks, while the other is apparently in a light red or pink polo shirt and jeans.
“They are witnesses, we are very interested in talking to them and hearing about how they found the bag,” Jim Waters, head of the NYPD’s counterterrorism bureau, said Wednesday. “They found the bag, opened it, found the device — a pressure cooker — and took the bag. They are witnesses. There are no criminal charges. I want to stress that.”
Authorities were running down several tips phoned in to police after the release of the video Wednesday, a senior law enforcement official said.
The pressure cooker bomb inside the suitcase was allegedly planted by Ahmad Rahami, a New Jersey resident who was charged with planting that device and one that exploded on 23rd Street, injuring 31 people, Saturday night. He is also charged with planting the pipe bomb that exploded in a trash bin along a Marine 5K race in Seaside Park, New Jersey, hours earlier.
Waters said the men who removed the bomb from the bag were “very lucky” they weren’t hurt. He said if the men weren’t plugged into news coverage, it was possible they still didn’t know they had taken the bag that held the bomb.
Newly sworn-in NYPD Commissioner Jimmy O’Neill said the men should head to a police precinct or call law enforcement. People with information on them are asked to call 1-800-CALL-FBI.
Rahami continues to recover in a hospital after he was shot 10 times in the confrontation with police in Linden, New Jersey, that led to his capture Monday. Two officers who were wounded have been released from the hospital. Rahami has been charged with five counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer in connection with that shootout.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Wednesday Rahami would face terror charges in New York first, and that the Department of Justice planned to bring him to the city “in the near future.” She says the charges reflect the Justice Department’s “unwavering determination to finding, capturing and prosecuting all those who attempt to commit or commit acts of terror against our nation.”
Law enforcement recovered a “rambling” journal on Rahami when he was captured that referenced Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the ISIS spokesman killed in a U.S. airstrike, and Anwar al-Awlaki, the American al-Qaida cleric killed in a drone strike, authorities have said. The journal ended with the message “Death to your oppression,” according to court filings.
Rahami’s public defender had asked he be brought to court Wednesday to face federal charges, but authorities said that could not happen until he was removed from the hospital in New Jersey, where he is in custody on the shootout-related charges, and brought to New York.